[ min-uh-ster ]
See synonyms for: ministerministering on

  1. a person authorized to conduct religious worship; member of the clergy; pastor.

  2. a person authorized to administer sacraments, as at Mass.

  1. 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.

  2. a diplomatic representative accredited by one government to another and ranking next below an ambassador.: Compare envoy1 (def. 1).

  3. a person acting as the agent or instrument of another.

verb (used with object)
  1. to administer or apply: to minister the last rites.

  2. Archaic. to furnish; supply.

verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the functions of a religious minister.

  2. to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.: to minister to the needs of the hungry.

  1. 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 minorminor) + -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

Other words for minister

Other words from minister

  • pre·min·is·ter, verb (used without object)
  • sub·min·is·ter, noun
  • un·der·min·is·ter, noun
  • un·min·is·tered, adjective

Words that may be confused with minister Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use minister in a sentence

  • Instead he has emphasized core elements of the social gospel like combatting poverty and ministering to the sick and downtrodden.

  • Though their faith does not provide simple policy solutions, it demands that they be disposed towards ministering to the needy.

  • I know the symptoms, they are unmistakable: they always are, among the ministering classes.

  • If a ministering angel walks abroad through this world of many sorrows, it is my wife Barbara.

    Jaffery | William J. Locke
  • On the calling of the Long Parliament, he and his wife returned to England, and in 1642 we find him ministering to his old flock.

    East Anglia | J. Ewing Ritchie
  • The wounded had been gathered into a school-house, and the warm-hearted women of the place were ministering to their comfort.

    The Boys of '61 | Charles Carleton Coffin.
  • Before long the eyes unclosed and fastened dreamily on the ministering maiden.

    Maid Sally | Harriet A. Cheever

British Dictionary definitions for minister


/ (ˈmɪnɪstə) /

  1. (esp in Presbyterian and some Nonconformist Churches) a member of the clergy

  2. a person appointed to head a government department

  1. any diplomatic agent accredited to a foreign government or head of state

  2. short for minister plenipotentiary or envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary: See envoy 1 (def. 1)

  3. Also called (in full): minister resident a diplomat ranking after an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary

  4. a person who attends to the needs of others, esp in religious matters

  5. a person who acts as the agent or servant of a person or thing

  1. (intr often foll by to) to attend to the needs (of); take care (of)

  2. (tr) archaic to provide; supply

Origin of minister

C13: via Old French from Latin: servant; related to minus less

Derived forms of minister

  • ministership, noun

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

Cultural definitions for minister (1 of 2)


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.