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 other seminaries recommended are Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and Wesley Biblical Seminary in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Greg Garrison | , al, 23 Mar. 2023 The group cross-referenced location data from the apps and other details with locations of church residences, workplaces and seminaries to find clergy who were allegedly active on the apps, according to one of the reports and also the audiotape of the group’s president. Heather Kelly, Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2023 Hillel Yaniv, a student at a religious seminary, had served as a staff sergeant in the Israeli Navy. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 27 Feb. 2023 Jewish religious institutions Israeli synagogues and yeshivas – Orthodox rabbinical seminaries – received $266 million, around 15% of all funds. Jamie Levine Daniel, The Conversation, 19 Apr. 2023 Of particular note is the swimming pool excavated from the seminary’s old basement dining hall. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, 21 June 2023 Hillel Yaniv was a staff sergeant who served in the Israeli Navy and was in a study program at a religious seminary at the time he was killed. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 26 Feb. 2023 According to The Baptist News Global, which reported the resignation ahead of an official announcement from the seminary, if Greenway departs within the next year and a half, his will have been the shortest presidential tenure in the seminary’s 114-year history. Dallas News, 23 Sep. 2022 Portrait Milano, Milan Portrait Milano is the result of an ambitious restoration of a 1564 building that is a former archiepiscopal seminary. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, 21 June 2023 See More

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 4 Oct. 2023.

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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