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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
  • The church of Smyrna celebrated the anniversary of their martyred bishops passion with joy and gladness as his natal day.

    The Catacombs of Rome William Henry Withrow
  • Racked with sciatics, martyred with the stone, Will any mortal let himself alone?

    Essay on Man Alexander Pope
  • I spoke, it may be remembered, of a document which had been placed in my hands by her martyred mother.

    The Golden Grasshopper W.H.G. Kingston
  • He and his principal follower were seized and about to be martyred.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Alexander Maclaren
  • Indeed, de Batz had no keys such as these to open the way for him to the presence of the martyred little King.

    El Dorado Baroness Orczy
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 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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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martyred in the Bible

one who bears witness of the truth, and suffers death in the cause of Christ (Acts 22:20; Rev. 2:13; 17:6). In this sense Stephen was the first martyr. The Greek word so rendered in all other cases is translated "witness." (1.) In a court of justice (Matt. 18:16; 26:65; Acts 6:13; 7:58; Heb. 10:28; 1 Tim. 5:19). (2.) As of one bearing testimony to the truth of what he has seen or known (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22; Rom. 1:9; 1 Thess. 2:5, 10; 1 John 1:2).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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