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[min-uh-ster] /ˈmɪn ə stər/
a person authorized to conduct religious worship; member of the clergy; pastor.
a person authorized to administer sacraments, as at Mass.
a person appointed by or under the authority of a sovereign or head of a government to some high office of state, especially to that of head of an administrative department:
the minister of finance.
a diplomatic representative accredited by one government to another and ranking next below an ambassador.
Compare envoy1 (def 1).
a person acting as the agent or instrument of another.
verb (used with object)
to administer or apply:
to minister the last rites.
Archaic. to furnish; supply.
verb (used without object)
to perform the functions of a religious minister.
to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.:
to minister to the needs of the hungry.
to contribute, as to comfort or happiness.
Origin of minister
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English ministre, minister (< Old French ministre) < Latin minister servant, equivalent to minis- (variant of minus a lesser amount; akin to minor minor) + -ter noun suffix; replacing Middle English menistre < Old French < Latin, as above; (v.) Middle English ministren < Old French ministrer < Latin ministrāre to act as a servant, attend, derivative of minister
Related forms
preminister, verb (used without object)
subminister, noun
underminister, noun
unministered, adjective
Can be confused
clergy, cleric, imam, minister, pastor, priest, rabbi.
9. answer, tend, oblige. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ministering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Charity is a great thing; and so always is ministering unto souls, when done simply forGod.

  • When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou.

    The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston
  • As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

  • We are ministering angels to one another, in our process of awakening.

    The Right Knock Helen Van-Anderson
  • Now, if a man is perfect to begin with, what is a dear, ministering angel of a woman to do with him?

  • Least of all ought a work like ministering to the poor hinder the spiritual life.

  • The Sisters of Charity were indefatigable in ministering to the sick and dying.

  • Perhaps it is that the very spirit of her ministering is to despair of nothing.

    Davenport Dunn, Volume 1 (of 2) Charles James Lever
  • He shall do a great work on the earth in ministering the word and teaching the children of men.

    The Life of John Taylor B. H. Roberts
British Dictionary definitions for ministering


(esp in Presbyterian and some Nonconformist Churches) a member of the clergy
a person appointed to head a government department
any diplomatic agent accredited to a foreign government or head of state
short for minister plenipotentiary or envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary See envoy1 (sense 1)
Also called (in full) minister resident. a diplomat ranking after an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary
a person who attends to the needs of others, esp in religious matters
a person who acts as the agent or servant of a person or thing
(intransitive) often foll by to. to attend to the needs (of); take care (of)
(transitive) (archaic) to provide; supply
Derived Forms
ministership, noun
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin: servant; related to minus less
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 ministering



c.1300, "one who acts upon the authority of another," from Old French menistre "servant, valet, member of a household staff, administrator, musician, minstrel" (12c.), from Latin minister (genitive ministri) "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (in Medieval Latin, "priest"), from minus, minor "less," hence "subordinate," (see minus) + comparative suffix *-teros. Formed on model of magister. Meaning "priest" is attested in English from early 14c. Political sense of "high officer of the state" is attested from 1620s, from notion of "service to the crown."


early 14c., "to perform religious rites, provide religious services;" mid-14c., "to serve (food or drink);" late 14c. "render service or aid," from Old French menistrer "to serve, be of service, administer, attend, wait on," and directly from Latin ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon" (see minister (n.)). Related: Ministered; ministering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ministering in Culture

minister definition

In many Protestant churches, the presiding clergyman. Ministers preach sermons; conduct services; officiate at baptisms, weddings, and funerals; and generally look after the needs of their congregation. Some Protestant churches refer to their clergy as pastors or preachers rather than ministers.

minister definition

A title used in many countries for members of cabinets and similar public officials, who are roughly equivalent to the officials in the United States cabinet. For example, a minister of foreign affairs will have duties similar to those of the secretary of state of the United States.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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ministering in the Bible

one who serves, as distinguished from the master. (1.) Heb. meshereth, applied to an attendant on one of superior rank, as to Joshua, the servant of Moses (Ex. 33:11), and to the servant of Elisha (2 Kings 4:43). This name is also given to attendants at court (2 Chr. 22:8), and to the priests and Levites (Jer. 33:21; Ezek. 44:11). (2.) Heb. pelah (Ezra 7:24), a "minister" of religion. Here used of that class of sanctuary servants called "Solomon's servants" in Ezra 2:55-58 and Neh. 7:57-60. (3.) Greek leitourgos, a subordinate public administrator, and in this sense applied to magistrates (Rom. 13:6). It is applied also to our Lord (Heb. 8:2), and to Paul in relation to Christ (Rom. 15:16). (4.) Greek hyperetes (literally, "under-rower"), a personal attendant on a superior, thus of the person who waited on the officiating priest in the synagogue (Luke 4:20). It is applied also to John Mark, the attendant on Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:5). (5.) Greek diaconos, usually a subordinate officer or assistant employed in relation to the ministry of the gospel, as to Paul and Apollos (1 Cor. 3:5), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21), Epaphras (Col. 1:7), Timothy (1 Thess. 3:2), and also to Christ (Rom. 15:8).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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