verb (used with object)

to administer or apply: to minister the last rites.
Archaic. to furnish; supply.

verb (used without object)

Nearby words

  1. miniseries,
  2. minish,
  3. miniski,
  4. miniskirt,
  5. ministate,
  6. minister of state,
  7. minister of the crown,
  8. minister plenipotentiary,
  9. minister resident,
  10. minister without portfolio

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 formspre·min·is·ter, verb (used without object)sub·min·is·ter, nounun·der·min·is·ter, nounun·min·is·tered, adjective

Can be confusedclergy cleric imam minister pastor priest rabbi Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for minister

British Dictionary definitions for minister



(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 plenipotentiarySee envoy 1 (def. 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


(intr often foll by to) to attend to the needs (of); take care (of)
(tr) archaic to provide; supply
Derived Formsministership, noun

Word Origin for minister

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

Word Origin and History for minister
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for minister


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.

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.