Definition of proselyte in US English:



  • 1A person who has converted from one opinion, religion, or party to another.

    • ‘Coleridge was thus for him the latest in a line of prospective English prosodic proselytes.’
    • ‘From either side of the Atlantic, two of the more influential proselytes of that degenerate old collectivist have chosen to re-iterate all the old myths once again.’
    • ‘I have found this in the case of Buddhism, which doesn't advocate proselytes, and somewhat in Judaism - which doesn't seek to convert either but many followers certainly have a great pride in it and wish to express this.’
    • ‘At the extreme, the new economy proselyte promotes the Internet as the solution for everything from education and health care to pollution, inequality and world peace.’
    • ‘For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword.’
    convert, new believer, catechumen, recruit, neophyte, newcomer, initiate, tyro, novice
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A Gentile who has converted to Judaism.
      • ‘More likely, they were Jews or Gentile proselytes who knew about the God of the Old Testament but not about Jesus, his death, his resurrection, and salvation through him.’
      • ‘It visited the sin of the fathers not only upon their biological children but also upon every single Jew, homeborn or proselyte.’
      • ‘How could it be otherwise, when all of the first Christians were Jews and when, on this reading, both the fourth evangelist and his primary readers were Jews and Jewish proselytes?’
      • ‘For these same proselytes, it meanwhile fulfilled the scriptural injunction of a temple service garment of utmost simplicity.’
      • ‘The artist of the printed Amsterdam Haggadah, a proselyte by the name of Abraham bar Jacob, based his image on an unrelated image from the well-known Icones Biblicae of the Swiss artist Matthaeus Merian, first published in 1630.’


  • another term for proselytize
    • ‘While Buddhism is not a religion that proselytes, it certainly has a sense of its own mission in spreading its message.’
    • ‘On the other hand, it may very well be that proselyting the world has become so ingrained a habit that no change is possible.’
    • ‘I think the churches are filled with people who have been proselyted to a religion.’
    • ‘‘We don't want taxpayer dollars being spent in order to proselyte children into praying to Zeus and Apollo,’ she remarked.’
    • ‘The Mormons had come as part of a great upsurge in proselyting to American Indians, known under doctrines of the faith as the ‘Lamanites.’’


Late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek prosēluthos ‘stranger, convert’, from prosēluth-, past stem of proserkhesthai ‘approach’.