sec·​re·​tary | \ˈse-krə-ˌter-ē, 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

4a : writing desk, escritoire

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 \ adjective
secretaryship \ˈse-​krə-​ˌter-​ē-​ˌship \ 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

In every one of them the girl is either the wife of somebody, the daughter of somebody, the secretary of somebody. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Gillian Jacobs: Why Marlo Thomas' Free to Be You and Me Still Holds Up Today," 22 Nov. 2018 Under reforms instituted in the wake of a 2015 corruption scandal, the 37-member FIFA Council includes a female representative from each of the six confederations and a female secretary general. Steven Goff,, "U.S. women's soccer is one year from the World Cup. It seems closer for coach Jill Ellis.," 12 July 2018 Switzerland and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has gone on a lengthy rant following comments from the Swiss FA's secretary general, Alex Miescher., "Granit Xhaka Hits Out at Swiss FA Following Controversial Comments on Dual Nationality," 8 July 2018 Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former secretary of energy in the Clinton administration. Hal Boedeker,, "CNN explores Fox News-Trump White House merger," 6 July 2018 Eisenhower, according to notes of the meeting kept by White House staff secretary L.A. Minnich Jr., initially thought the military should have overall responsibility for spaceflight. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "On NASA’s birthday, a reminder that we can thank Nixon for the agency," 1 Oct. 2018 As staff secretary in the Bush White House, Kavanaugh had the highest possible security clearance, one that allowed him access to this country's nuclear codes. Fox News, "High school friend of Kavanaugh reacts to new allegation; Alan Dershowitz on Kavanaugh chaos," 28 Sep. 2018 Kavanaugh served in the White House counsel’s office and as Bush’s staff secretary, a demanding job requiring meticulous close reading of every document that crosses the President’s desk. Brian Bennett, Time, "How Brett Kavanaugh Could Change the Supreme Court—and America," 12 July 2018 Somewhere in the jetport controvert, Nixon took a liking to Reed and appointed him assistant secretary of the Interior. Alex Harris, miamiherald, "Nathaniel Reed, 84, co-wrote the Endangered Species Act and icon of Everglades protection," 11 July 2018

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

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

: 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 \
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

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living or existing for a long time

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