[ men-tawr, -ter ]
/ ˈmɛn tɔr, -tər /
Save This Word!

a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
an influential senior sponsor or supporter.
verb (used without object)
to act as a mentor: She spent years mentoring to junior employees.
verb (used with object)
to act as a mentor to: The brash young executive did not wish to be mentored by anyone.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of mentor

First recorded in 1740–50; after Mentor (from Greek Méntōr )


men·tor·ship, noun

Other definitions for mentor (2 of 3)

[ men-ter ]
/ ˈmɛn tər /

a town in NE Ohio.

Other definitions for mentor (3 of 3)

[ men-tawr, -ter ]
/ ˈmɛn tɔr, -tər /

(in the Odyssey) a loyal adviser of Odysseus entrusted with the care and education of Telemachus.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does mentor mean?

A mentor is the main person you rely on to give you advice and guidance, especially in your career.

Mentor can also be used as a verb meaning to act as a mentor, as in I mentor two of my students. 

If you have a mentor, you are the mentee.

Example: It feels strange to me that I’m now more famous than my mentor—I wouldn’t be where I am without her.

Where does mentor come from?

Even your mentor might not have known that the word mentor comes from a proper name—though a fictional one. In the Odyssey, Mentor is a loyal adviser of Odysseus entrusted with the care and education of his son Telemachus. The first records of mentor used in English as a noun referring to an advisor come from the 1700s. Mentor wasn’t popularly used as a verb until the 1900s. (Similar to most mentor-mentee relationships, mentee is much younger—the first records of it come from the 1960s.)

The word mentor is most commonly used in professional and academic contexts. In academia, a mentor is usually a teacher, especially a professor, and their mentee is typically a student. A mentor may act as a model for the mentee’s career and help them decide which path to pursue. The same thing goes for professional mentor-mentee relationships, in which the mentor is usually a boss or a person who holds a more senior position. Because mentors draw on their experience to mentor mentees, mentors are usually older. In all cases, the two words imply a close relationship based on the mentee’s respect for the mentor’s wisdom and experience and the mentor’s recognition of the mentee’s dedication and potential.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to mentor?

  • mentorship (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with mentor

What are some words that often get used in discussing mentor?


How is mentor used in real life?

Mentor is typically used by mentees when referring to such a relationship.



Try using mentor!

Is mentor used correctly in the following sentence?

When you mentor someone, it involves more than just teaching and giving advice—it also requires listening.

How to use mentor in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mentor (1 of 2)

/ (ˈmɛntɔː) /

a wise or trusted adviser or guide
to act as a mentor to (someone); train

Derived forms of mentor

mentorial, adjective

Word Origin for mentor

C18: from Mentor

British Dictionary definitions for mentor (2 of 2)

/ (ˈmɛntɔː) /

the friend whom Odysseus put in charge of his household when he left for Troy. He was the adviser of the young Telemachus
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