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 secretary (audio) \ adjective
secretaryship \ ˈse-​krə-​ˌter-​ē-​ˌship How to pronounce secretary (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for secretary


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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 Ellzey leaned on the high-profile Texan brand of former Gov. Rick Perry, who also served as energy secretary in the Trump administration, to affirm his backing of Trump. Alisa Wiersema, ABC News, "Texas special election marks 1st competitive contest of Biden era," 30 Apr. 2021 This is Vilsack's second time as agricultural secretary after serving for the Obama administration in 2009. CBS News, "Sisters plant the seeds for a new generation of Black farmers: "We want people to reconnect"," 29 Apr. 2021 The Biden administration is attempting to negotiate its re-entry into a nuclear deal with Iran, which previously had been Kerry’s signal foreign policy achievement as secretary of state under Barack Obama. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "“John Kerry Is a Traitor” Is the Republicans’ New Dumb Meme," 27 Apr. 2021 In 1829, Agathon-Jean-Francois, Baron Fain, wrote a memoir of his time serving as secretary to the emperor Napoleon. Hari Kunzru, Harper's Magazine, "You Must Change Your Life," 27 Apr. 2021 With Harris burnishing her foreign-policy credentials, Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra has been left to coordinate the administration’s efforts. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Biden Trips on the Border," 24 Apr. 2021 The state Legislature confirmed the Democratic assemblyman to fill the vacancy created when Xavier Becerra left to become U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Essential California: UC and CSU systems plan to mandate vaccinations," 23 Apr. 2021 Perdue's tenure as agriculture secretary in President Donald Trump's administration and his efforts to help Trump fight his 2020 electoral loss to Democratic President Joe Biden could also prompt questions. Jeff Amy, ajc, "Georgia university regents pause search for new chancellor," 23 Apr. 2021 Although Xavier Becerra was recently confirmed as the new Health and Human Services secretary, other Biden allies have reached out to potential candidates about the job. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, "Biden in no rush to pick new FDA chief," 30 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for secretary

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for secretary

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Secretary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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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