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


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

White said the Pentagon’s border security support cell is being led by Ken Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Pentagon establishes 24/7 operation after Trump orders military to Mexico border," 2 Oct. 2018 The transport secretary has not yet responded to Khan's request for Uber-capping power. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "London's Mayor Wants to Cap the Number of Uber Drivers in the City," 16 Aug. 2018 The secretary of state is cancelling incorrect registrations. Sophia Bollag, The Seattle Times, "California DMV: Non-citizens may be registered to vote," 8 Oct. 2018 Sajid Javid, the home secretary, who has acted as the government’s spokesman on the matter, was more cautious in addressing Parliament. New York Times,, "Britain suggests Russia is behind latest nerve agent case," 10 July 2018 Schnare speculated that Donald van der Vaart, the former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, could be a possible contender for permanent administrator. Niina Heikkinen, Scientific American, "Environmental Advocates Will Keep Pressure on Pruitt's Successor at EPA," 6 July 2018 Still, Broce maintained the secretary of state's office was unable to duplicate ProPublica's efforts. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "With no evidence, Georgia’s top voting official accuses Dems of “cyberattack”," 5 Nov. 2018 She and Prince William had a parting meeting with Miguel Head, who was stepping down as private secretary, Elle UK reports. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Reportedly Made an Appearance at a Private Engagement This Week," 13 Sep. 2018 For a time she was employed as a secretary while her husband worked as a singing waiter. CBS News, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., Frank Sinatra's first wife, dead at 101," 14 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

29 Mar 2019

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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
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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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).


an enemy or opponent

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