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

Chris Meekins, chief of Staff for HHS’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said officials were proceeding cautiously out of concern for the children’s safety. Silvia Foster-frau, San Antonio Express-News, "Government moves fitfully, secretly to reunite sundered families," 10 July 2018 Dominic Raab, who succeeded David Davis as secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU) after the latter resigned on Sunday night, has a reputation as something of a hard man, just like his predecessor. The Economist, "Meet Dominic Raab: the new Brexit boss," 9 July 2018 After her attendance at the University of London Institute in Paris, Camilla began working as a secretary for many businesses in London's West End until landing a job at a decorating firm. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "How Camilla Parker Bowles Gained a Large Net Worth Even Before Marrying Prince Charles," 6 July 2018 Jonathan White, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said Thursday morning. NBC News, "DNA tests for separated families slammed by immigration advocates," 5 July 2018 Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, is close to the Bush family, having served as W’s personal secretary for years. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Supreme Court Pageant Could Come Down to Looks," 5 July 2018 Maryann worked for many years as a legal secretary in the Hartford area and for 15 years in the Orlando, FL area before her retirement in 2008. Hartford Courant,, "Maryann Zachorewitz," 4 July 2018 Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s new assistant secretary for civil rights, Kenneth L. Marcus, has opposed affirmative action. Jaweed Kaleem,, "Trump administration rescinds Obama-era policies encouraging affirmative action and backs race-neutral school admissions," 4 July 2018 It was convened by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, a position that normally oversees public health emergencies. Jen Kirby, Vox, "500 migrant kids have been reunited with their parents. Thousands are still caught in the system.," 23 June 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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Phrases Related to secretary

Foreign Secretary

Secretary of State

Statistics for secretary

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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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

: 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

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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