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[mahr-ter] /ˈmɑr tər/
a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause:
a martyr to the cause of social justice.
a person who undergoes severe or constant suffering:
a martyr to severe headaches.
a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.
verb (used with object)
to make a martyr of, especially by putting to death.
to torment or torture.
Origin of martyr
before 900; (noun) Middle English marter, Old English martyr < Late Latin < Late Greek mártyr, variant of Greek mártys, mártyros witness; (v.) Middle English martiren, Old English martyrian, derivative of noun
Related forms
martyrish, adjective
martyrly, adverb, adjective
unmartyred, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for martyred
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let him only be supposed to be martyred by these, and there is no saying where his popularity may be carried.

    The Fortunes Of Glencore Charles James Lever
  • Twelve other christians, who had been intimate with Polycarp, were soon after martyred.

  • They were martyred by being tied to posts, and having their feet pierced with nails.

  • This building was yet unfinished when Wenceslaus was martyred.

    From a Terrace in Prague Lieut.-Col. B. Granville Baker
  • A Ftiha in the name of Husain and of those who were martyred with him is then said.

    The Faith of Islam Edward Sell
British Dictionary definitions for martyred


a person who suffers death rather than renounce his religious beliefs
a person who suffers greatly or dies for a cause, belief, etc
a person who suffers from poor health, misfortune, etc: he's a martyr to rheumatism
(facetious or derogatory) a person who feigns suffering to gain sympathy, help, etc
verb (transitive)
to kill as a martyr
to make a martyr of
Derived Forms
martyrization, martyrisation, noun
Word Origin
Old English martir, from Church Latin martyr, from Late Greek martur-, martus witness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for martyred



Old English martyrian, from martyr (see martyr (n.)). Middle English also had a verb martyrize.



Old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, from Doric Greek martyr, earlier martys (genitive martyros) in Christian use "martyr," literally "witness," probably related to mermera "care, trouble," from mermairein "be anxious or thoughtful," from PIE *(s)mrtu- (cf. Sanskrit smarati "remember," Latin memor "mindful;" see memory).

Adopted directly into most Germanic languages, but Norse substituted native formation pislarvattr, literally "torture-witness." General sense of "constant sufferer" is from 1550s. Martyr complex "exaggerated desire for self-sacrifice" is attested from 1920.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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