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


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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 Trump had previously nominated Jackson for Veterans Affairs secretary, but the doctor withdrew from consideration after facing allegations of alcohol abuse and mishandling prescription drugs. Fox News, "Trump’s a major factor in Tuesday’s primaries, as ex-AG Sessions fights for political life in Alabama," 14 July 2020 Langshaw’s profanity-laced, threatening phone call to a part-time City Hall secretary. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "North Royalton Councilman Dan Langshaw resigns, takes parting shots at city leaders," 13 July 2020 Yet, at least rhetorically, the department is worried about statues, said Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration. Zolan Kanno-youngs,, "Homeland Security Turns to Defending Statues Amid Questions Over Priorities," 10 July 2020 Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters traveling to Florida with President Trump that it would likely be held in one or two weeks' time. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Trump campaign postpones New Hampshire rally, citing tropical storm," 10 July 2020 Belton characterizes the ambitions of Putin’s people in her description of Nikolai Patrushev, the former head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and now secretary of the powerful Security Council. Washington Post, "How Putin pushed aside the oligarchs and made Russia his own," 10 July 2020 The health-workers’ union is negotiating for improved conditions and better protective gear, says Deemi Dearzrua, a union secretary in Monrovia, the capital. Tope Alake,, "Stretched and Stressed by Outbreak, African Doctors Push Back," 9 July 2020 Stephanie Bibbs, attorney, Marion County prosecutor’s office. Shawn Carruthers, Floyd County commissioner. Brandon Clifton, attorney, chief of staff and deputy Indiana secretary of state. Chris Sikich, The Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Republicans to launch initiative to recruit Blacks and Latinos," 8 July 2020 Fernando Ferry, Rio de Janeiro's health secretary for a matter of weeks, resigned his post in late June after three other top state health officials had lost or quit their jobs amid wrongdoing and corruption accusations during the pandemic. CNN, "As coronavirus cases explode in Brazil, so do investigations into alleged corruption," 8 July 2020

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

26 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Secretary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for secretary


How to pronounce secretary (audio)

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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