sec·​re·​tary | \ ˈse-krə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce secretary (audio) , ˈse-kə-ˌter-, in rapid speech also ˈsek-ˌter-, especially British ˈse-k(r)ə-trē\
plural secretaries

Definition of secretary

1 : one employed to handle correspondence and manage routine and detail work for a superior
2a : an officer of a business concern who may keep records of directors' and stockholders' meetings and of stock ownership and transfer and help supervise the company's legal interests
b : an officer of an organization or society responsible for its records and correspondence
3 : an officer of state who superintends a government administrative department the secretary of labor
b : a writing desk with a top section for books

Illustration of secretary

Illustration of secretary

secretary 4b

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Other Words from secretary

secretarial \ ˌse-​krə-​ˈter-​ē-​əl How to pronounce secretarial (audio) \ adjective
secretaryship \ ˈse-​krə-​ˌter-​ē-​ˌship How to pronounce secretaryship (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for secretary


clerk, register, registrar, scribe

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Examples of secretary in a Sentence

You can set up an appointment with my secretary. He works as a legal secretary. He was the club's secretary. He is a junior secretary at the embassy.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Former President Obama smelled himself at a rally in 2016, poking fun at radio host Alex Jones' contention that the former president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, bore the demonic scent. Fox News, "NH Dem party chair jokes that Trump is the devil: 'We did our best to get the sulfur smell out'," 8 Sep. 2019 The litigation is our suit against the state of Georgia and its secretary of state, because the right to vote is not protected in our state. Seamus Kirst, Teen Vogue, "Stacey Abrams Wants You To Know That Politicians Are Trying To Keep You From Voting," 6 Sep. 2019 After his first wife, the former Sally Hayfron, died in 1992, Mr. Mugabe married his secretary and longtime mistress, Grace Marufu, 41 years his junior. Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, "Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean leader who helped liberate and destroy his country, dies at 95," 6 Sep. 2019 Under the leadership of Joseph Henry and his assistant secretary, Spencer F. Baird, by the mid-1850s the Smithsonian became the nexus for an exuberant and ever-changing gathering of brilliant, young naturalists. Smithsonian, "The Hard-Drinking Early Smithsonian Naturalists of the Megatherium Club," 4 Sep. 2019 In February 2015, Mary Lassiter, as secretary of the governor's executive cabinet, convened a meeting with state education officials to discuss the plan, according to an invitation and emails obtained through a public records request. Alfred Miller, ProPublica, "How Kentucky Gambled for Hundreds of Millions of Dollars From a Broadband Program It Didn’t Qualify for," 4 Sep. 2019 Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Trump appointed the billionaire and charter school advocate as education secretary in 2017. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "David Koch’s spirit is alive and well in the White House cabinet," 23 Aug. 2019 Wednesday’s trip was DeVos’ fifth visit to Indiana since her appointment as education secretary in 2017. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos touts 'second chances' for young Indiana inmates learning to code," 14 Aug. 2019 Later that month, Acosta resigned as labor secretary. Anna North, Vox, "His death doesn’t mean his story is over," 10 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'secretary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of secretary

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for secretary

Middle English secretarie, from Medieval Latin secretarius, confidential employee, secretary, from Latin secretum secret, from neuter of secretus

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Statistics for secretary

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for secretary

The first known use of secretary was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for secretary



English Language Learners Definition of secretary

: a person whose job is to handle records, letters, etc., for another person in an office
: a person in a club or other organization who is in charge of keeping letters and records
US : an official who is selected by the President and is in charge of a particular department of the government


sec·​re·​tary | \ ˈse-krə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce secretary (audio) \
plural secretaries

Kids Definition of secretary

1 : a person who is employed to take care of records, letters, and routine work for another person
2 : an officer of a business corporation or society who is in charge of the letters and records and who keeps minutes of meetings
3 : a government official in charge of a department the secretary of education
4 : a writing desk with a top section for books


noun, often capitalized
plural secretaries

Legal Definition of secretary

1 : an officer of a business concern who may keep records of directors' and stockholders' meetings and of stock ownership and transfer and help supervise the company's interests
2 : a government officer who superintends an administrative department

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Comments on secretary

What made you want to look up secretary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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