sem·​i·​nary ˈse-mə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce seminary (audio)
plural seminaries
: an environment in which something originates and from which it is propagated
a seminary of vice and crime
: an institution of secondary or higher education
: an institution for the training of candidates for the priesthood, ministry, or rabbinate

Examples of seminary in a Sentence

a seminary exclusively for women some claimed that orphanages were seminaries of sin and petty crime, turning out juvenile delinquents by the score
Recent Examples on the Web The court also ruled that state subsidies for seminaries where exempted ultra-Orthodox men study should remain suspended. Tia Goldenberg, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 June 2024 The conscription waiver keeps some of the community in seminaries and out of the workforce, hindering economic growth and placing a welfare burden on middle-class taxpayers. Maayan Lubell, USA TODAY, 25 June 2024 Pressley earned a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisiana, one of the SBC's official seminaries. CBS News, 12 June 2024 The Vatican, in summarizing the gathering, said only that the pontiff had cautioned about admitting gay men into Roman Catholic seminaries. Emma Bubola, New York Times, 12 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for seminary 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'seminary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, seedbed, nursery, from Latin seminarium, from semin-, semen seed

First Known Use

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of seminary was in 1542

Dictionary Entries Near seminary

Cite this Entry

“Seminary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


sem·​i·​nary ˈsem-ə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce seminary (audio)
plural seminaries
: a private school at or above the high school level
: a school for the training of priests, ministers, or rabbis

Middle English seminary "seedbed, nursery, from Latin seminarium (same meaning), from semen "seed"

Word Origin
The English word seminary and its Latin source seminarium, a derivative of semen, "seed," both originally denoted a nursery for young plants. Roman authors sometimes used the Latin word figuratively, but English has gone much further in extending the meaning of the word, while the old sense "nursery for plants" is now obsolete. The use of seminary in reference to training schools for Roman Catholic clergy dates from the 16th century. Today the word refers equally to Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish colleges for training priests, ministers, or rabbis. Seminary has also been applied to other kinds of schools. When they were first formed in the 19th century, colleges for women were called "female seminaries" or "seminaries for young ladies."

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