Definition of missionary in English:



  • A person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.

    • ‘The numbers of Mormon missionaries and converts will double in the next fifteen years.’
    • ‘During the seventeenth century, French Jesuit missionaries converted many of the Iroquois to Catholicism.’
    • ‘Christianity, first introduced by missionaries, has largely replaced traditional Inuit religious practices.’
    • ‘The missionaries established schools as a principal method of teaching and preaching.’
    • ‘He was born in India to parents who were missionaries for the Plymouth Brethren.’
    • ‘Spanish colonizers and Franciscan missionaries had established themselves in New Mexico by 1598.’
    • ‘Christian missionaries came as well, drawn by the large numbers of prospective converts.’
    • ‘Nutrition in the area is poor but missionaries of the Sacred Heart have set up a school feeding scheme.’
    • ‘A number of the foremost pioneer missionaries to these islands also served in Australia.’
    • ‘Entrepreneurs, church missionaries, and the British colonial government officers soon arrived thereafter.’
    • ‘Christianity was introduced by missionaries in the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘He spent the next seven years as a missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge, Massachusetts.’
    • ‘My parents are missionaries and have travelled the world since before I was born.’
    • ‘American Protestant missionaries arrived in Korea in the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘In 1924 the first Catholic missionaries arrived on the plateau.’
    • ‘The bulk of the missionaries who came to Zambia long ago came from Europe.’
    • ‘Yet how many Christians today give even a tenth to support pastors, evangelists and missionaries?’
    • ‘Hardly a week goes by without reports of aid workers or missionaries being killed.’
    • ‘The Roman Catholic church of Spain sent Jesuit missionaries to subdue and civilize the Paraguayan natives.’
    • ‘A short time later, European Catholic missionaries settled in Lebanon and began schools there.’
    evangelist, apostle, proselytizer, preacher, televangelist, minister, priest
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  • Relating to or characteristic of a missionary or a religious mission.

    ‘missionary work’
    ‘our taxi driver shared a sense of missionary zeal with us’
    • ‘The general area is well worth visiting, having various historical sites that recall early missionary effort.’
    • ‘Other conservative Republicans were dismayed by the president's missionary zeal.’
    • ‘There is a direct connection between the presence of missionary zeal in members and their regular presence in worship.’
    • ‘The rich white missionary agencies are making use of the country's poverty and social ills to further their ends.’
    • ‘There is a kind of missionary fervor among those participating in the effort.’
    • ‘And to this day fluoridation is still pursued with missionary fervour.’
    • ‘South Sea Islanders were very important in early Protestant missionary activity and most were accompanied by their wives.’
    • ‘Morals and good habits were also an important subject for charts and an integral part of missionary education.’
    • ‘Christian missionary activity has taken place since 1797 and has had a great impact on the Tongan culture.’
    • ‘Why are Christians not more active in missionary endeavours?’
    • ‘As a result of missionary influence, it has become customary for a woman to cover her hair with a scarf or hat.’
    • ‘The European Christian Mission is celebrating one hundred years of missionary activity.’
    • ‘So we can assume that he is not burning with missionary zeal to convert Iran to Christianity.’
    • ‘Yes, the church has certainly had a vision like that and most missionary traditions have had those hopes.’
    • ‘Theorizing about biblical translation was often undertaken and emerged within the framework of missionary practice.’
    • ‘Perhaps that has been one of the greatest failings of missionary endeavours in Africa over the past 50 years!’
    • ‘Liberalism is a missionary faith, and proselytising zeal is not normally conducive to sceptical inquiry.’
    • ‘For some there was religious missionary zeal in helping those who were less fortunate.’
    • ‘What must it have been like in the heady days of Paul's missionary work there?’
    • ‘The choice was left up to him and another Jesuit who had also been tapped for missionary work.’
    evangelistic, evangelizing, missionary, crusading, propagandist, propagandizing, converting, proselytizing, televangelical
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Mid 17th century: from modern Latin missionarius, from Latin missio (see mission).