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

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


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The current Interior secretary, Deb Haaland, visited the refuge and King Cove last month but did not announce any position on a land exchange. Mark Thiessen, Anchorage Daily News, 10 May 2022 Putin has stood on that date shoulder to shoulder with the presidents of the United States and France, the prime ministers of Italy and Japan, the German chancellor and the secretary-general of the United Nations. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 9 May 2022 Last year, he was promoted to chief secretary, the No. 2 position in the Hong Kong government. Cao Li, WSJ, 8 May 2022 Lee was then promoted to chief secretary for administration, the city’s No. 2 position. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 8 May 2022 Last June, Beijing appointed Lee as chief secretary, Hong Kong’s second-highest political position. Washington Post, 8 May 2022 Britain's defense secretary, Ben Wallace, has predicted. Jeva Lange, The Week, 7 May 2022 Mexico’s foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, said on Friday afternoon that the upcoming visit of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the island would go ahead as planned. Oscar Lopez, New York Times, 6 May 2022 In the comics, however, she’s of Cheyenne descent and not a wizard, but Strange’s secretary. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best kids' desks.

Learn More About secretary

Time Traveler for secretary

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near secretary



secretary at war

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for secretary

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Secretary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for secretary


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

More from Merriam-Webster on secretary

Nglish: Translation of secretary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of secretary for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about secretary


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!