Meaning of minister in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmɪnɪstə/

See synonyms for minister

Translate minister into Spanish


  • 1(in certain countries) a head of a government department.

    ‘the Defence Minister’
    • ‘The decision not to send a message of support this year brought private criticism from ministers and backbench MSPs.’
    • ‘It seems to me that the way modern politics works, the Prime Minister of the day is very reliant on his ministers and backbench for policy support.’
    • ‘Usually when a minister's backbench committee opposes or has serious concerns about a plan, it triggers a rethink.’
    • ‘At the end of a council of education ministers meeting at Parliament, Education Minister Kader Asmal said this would now be published for public comment.’
    • ‘In September 1995, he was named parliamentary secretary to the minister of Labour.’
    • ‘With the Council emasculated, enforcement of policy was left to individual ministers and departments without co-ordination.’
    • ‘Official committees consist of the senior officials of departments whose ministers sit on the Cabinet committees.’
    • ‘She said the only person with the authority to change policies in the department was the minister - who even had to get approval from the Cabinet.’
    • ‘The cabinet authorizing the prime minister and the defense minister of Israel to take whatever steps are necessary soon to fight terror.’
    • ‘A private member is any MP other than the Speaker, a minister or a parliamentary secretary.’
    • ‘In my fifth trip back there this Memorial Day, I met with the defense minister, the speaker of the parliament, and others.’
    • ‘The council of finance ministers cannot depart from the rules laid down by the treaty.’
    • ‘Last week Putin, who has reduced his parliamentary contacts to the leaders of the pro-Kremlin United Russia majority, ordered his ministers to talk more to opposition.’
    • ‘The beleaguered Prime Minister has ordered his ministers to push ahead with the radical moves.’
    • ‘Education ministers have now been ordered to spearhead the nationwide action on juvenile offending demanded by Blair's office.’
    • ‘The minister of health has ordered prices reduced by 50 percent.’
    • ‘Nor is McConnell exactly in favour: he was the education minister who signed the order to revoke the right of schools to opt out of local authorities.’
    • ‘The battalion was acting under the orders of the interior minister, Luis Echevarria, who became Mexico's president in 1970.’
    • ‘Government ministers have ordered that no rise should be greater than five per cent, while also demanding the council meets legal requirements for spending in areas such as education.’
    • ‘Hospital chiefs will be ordered by health minister Malcolm Chisholm to cut back spending on agency nurses, some of whom earn more than £1,600 a week.’
    member of the government, political leader, cabinet minister, secretary of state, secretary, undersecretary, department head, privy counsellor, politician
    View synonyms
  • 2

    (also minister of religion)
    A member of the clergy, especially in the Presbyterian and Nonconformist Churches.

    ‘a minister of the Lutheran church’
    • ‘a Unitarian minister’
    • ‘First we say that Justice Bleby incorrectly formulated the test for an intention to create legal relations in the context of a church and a minister of religion.’
    • ‘This is a most refreshing new look at the book of Ecclesiastes, by the minister of Ravesby Presbyterian Church, Sydney.’
    • ‘Dr. Gentry is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.’
    • ‘Christians said there were definitely crime syndicates involved, and ministers of religion were complicit in the crimes.’
    • ‘The main talents were the three Caldwell brothers, sons of the Reverend James Caldwell, minister at the Presbyterian Church.’
    • ‘Many came from Scotland where they had been ordained as Presbyterian ministers in the Scottish church.’
    • ‘He was invited to speak in Belfast by Rev Ruth Patterson, the first woman ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church.’
    • ‘And what of evangelicalism with its positive and perky successful ministers and churches and their how-to sermons?’
    • ‘Priestley, a nonconformist Presbyterian minister, was supported in his scientific studies by the patronage of the Earl of Shelburne, in whose house Priestley was tutor.’
    • ‘Guthrie also referred to another controversy, one stemming from remarks on pluralism by a Presbyterian minister and interfaith leader.’
    • ‘It had not been easy to do as he wished, for his father was a Presbyterian minister who very much wanted his son to follow him in the religious life and perhaps become a missionary.’
    • ‘My father was a Presbyterian minister, which means we didn't have any money.’
    • ‘His father was a Presbyterian minister and, together with his mother, was devoted to the community.’
    • ‘Neu MacQueen is a Presbyterian minister and founder of Sunday Software Ministries.’
    • ‘Douglas Greenham, a member and minister of the church from 1996 to 1999, opened the meeting with prayer.’
    • ‘In the face of voluntary church membership, ministers engineered revivals to recruit congregants.’
    • ‘William Tennent, therefore, established a small school for Presbyterian ministers in a log cabin on the farm he owned in Bucks County.’
    • ‘In the meantime, many Presbyterian ministers have said they will continue to bless gay couples.’
    • ‘A number of Presbyterian ministers grew increasingly sceptical of the enduring value of revival.’
    • ‘He settled down and became the minister of the Salem Presbyterian Church, marrying Delilah Jane Cruise a short time later.’
    clergyman, clergywoman, cleric, ecclesiastic, pastor, vicar, rector, priest, parson, father, man of the cloth, woman of the cloth, man of God, woman of God, churchman, churchwoman
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1The superior of some religious orders.
      • ‘The act provided exemptions to men with certain disabilities, ministers of religious orders, theological students, and conscientious objectors.’
  • 3A diplomatic agent, usually ranking below an ambassador, representing a state or sovereign in a foreign country.

    ‘Last week, Baroness Symons, a Foreign Office minister, announced that Ambassador Craig Murray would go back to Tashkent.’
    • ‘And since this purported sale was between two sovereign governments, the minister of foreign affairs would have to be involved.’
    • ‘Foreign Office minister Lord Triesman will represent the government at the ceremony in Khao Lak.’
    • ‘The ministry, bombed and then looted during the US-led war on Iraq, was re-opened without a minister, ambassadors or diplomatic muscle.’
    • ‘Instead, ambassadors, ministers and diplomats are picking over the bones of what was a growing community working to create a better Europe.’
    • ‘Foreign office minister Lady Symons said there would be ‘very vigorous discussions’ with the US about securing a fair trial.’
    • ‘In January, Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce urged Foreign Office ministers to back Gregory's plea against her sentence.’
    • ‘The Durban Summit drew more than 5000 ministers, ambassadors and delegates.’
    • ‘Ben Bradshaw (an ‘out’ Labour MP) was, until earlier this year, a junior minister at the Foreign Office.’
    • ‘The Bulgarian diplomat was the only minister of a foreign country invited to ceremony, which coincided with his visit to the US.’
    • ‘In 1987, Mullin himself became a notably thoughtful Labour MP and served for a while as a minister at the Foreign Office.’
    • ‘A leading opponent of the war in Afghanistan took on Foreign Office minister Peter Hain in a debate in Brighton last week.’
    • ‘Please also write to Bill Rammell MP, the Foreign Office minister responsible for relations with Colombia.’
    • ‘In pursuing its aims, the Society has provided a platform in London for heads of governments, ministers, diplomats, academics and business leaders.’
    • ‘Canada has taken its bid to clean up politics to new levels, publishing details of expenses claimed by ministers, ambassadors and other senior officials on government websites.’
    • ‘Peter Hain is the foreign office minister given instructions from Prime Minister Tony Blair to bang the drum a bit, even if it involves him going slightly off-message.’
    • ‘Washington's explanation that there is a system where a foreign government's ministers are not even searched is like rubbing salt into the wound.’
    • ‘But Foreign Office ministers admitted yesterday that there was little point in the short term in campaigning hard on the euro.’
    • ‘They are assisted by the ministers for foreign affairs and a member of the Commission.’
    • ‘He returned to the Foreign Office as minister for Europe.’
    ambassador, chargé d'affaires, plenipotentiary, envoy, emissary, legate, diplomat
    View synonyms
  • 4archaic A person or thing used to achieve or convey something.

    ‘the Angels are ministers of the Divine Will’
    • ‘For nature is the minister of the Divine will not an instrument obedient to the command of man.’
    • ‘Beelzebub is slowly entering the boys, and through the use of Jack as a minister of evil, delivering the boys to insanity and corruption.’


[no object]
  • 1minister toAttend to the needs of (someone)

    ‘her doctor was busy ministering to the injured’
    • ‘There may also be room for optional characters, like a Horse Doctor to minister to Old Ball, or a supernumerary mummer who will be called Patsie.’
    • ‘I spend a lot of time attending and ministering to others while no one particularly cares about my needs (emotionally or otherwise)’
    • ‘I can pretty much say that every continent I've heard from, from people that he's ministered to, people that don't know him.’
    • ‘In is vital that we continue to minister to people like Fionnaigh.’
    • ‘There are many of us who have chosen to remain nonpartisan and chosen it as an opportunity to minister to both sides of the bird, and to care about the whole country at large.’
    • ‘What shall we do, then, to minister to the Russians, to assist them on the arduous road to ‘reform’?’
    • ‘As healers, we take courses in age-specific competencies and diversity to better prepare us to minister to the people who come to us for care.’
    tend, care for, take care of, look after, nurse, treat, attend to, see to, administer to, help, assist, succour
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic with object Provide (something necessary or helpful)
      ‘the story was able to minister true consolation’
      • ‘They would have experience; and by that experience they would be able to minister consolation to those who were in any manner afflicted.’
      • ‘At cataclysmic events in the community (births, illnesses, deaths) the women were present to minister aid and comfort.’
      • ‘I lovingly ministered care for my friend in his time of need.’
  • 2Act as a minister of religion.

    ‘will these women be permitted to minister as priests?’
    • ‘She introduces the narrator to Jerome Strozzi, an aging priest who ministers to society's throwaways.’
    • ‘As much as they might complain about some of their parishioners, parish priests ministered at some point to almost every person in France, particularly at key transitional moments in their lives.’
    • ‘Priests from religious orders and the diocesan priests both ministered in that part of Down.’
    • ‘In the early nineteenth century, there were not enough priests to minister to the burgeoning Catholic community in the United States.’
    • ‘Many ‘ordinary priests’, ministering to rural communities far removed from the episcopal and monastic centres, must have suffered as many hardships as the members of their flock.’
    • ‘He returned to Zambia in 1997 and ministered as a parish priest in Kabanana, in the Archdiocese of Lusaka until 2004, when he decided to take a sabbatical.’
    • ‘A spokesperson for the diocese said yesterday no priest currently ministering in the area was under investigation.’
    • ‘So does being able to receive the sacraments from the several priests and deacons who are allowed to minister on death row.’
    • ‘The newly ordained priest will minister for the next two years at the church.’
    • ‘In the rural areas, priests ministered to a largely illiterate population and, among them, were viewed with some deference for their literacy, their links to local elites, and their contacts with the wider world.’
    • ‘It currently has almost 400 priests worldwide, ministering to an estimated one million members in more than a thousand churches and chapels.’
    • ‘That meant in practice that the Roman Catholic priests who ministered to the Acadians were paid by the King of France, and appointed by the Bishop of Quebec, and France expected them to play both a political and an ecclesiastical role.’
    • ‘She was mother of Joe Kearney who ministered as a priest in Knock for a number of years.’
    • ‘I also know many ex-seminarians and former priests who have married who would still love to minister as priests.’
    • ‘In another report, a pastor and his wife ministering in the southwestern city of Galle were riding in a bus when the tsunami first hit.’
    • ‘No doubt a theological education helps - but it must never be a prerequisite that prevents potential pastors from ministering.’
    • ‘Similar comments were made by all the other pastors where I ministered.’
    • ‘He says one of his reasons for leaving was his fear of dying with no cleric from his own religion to minister to him.’
    • ‘I know people who have given up church responsibilities to create more time to minister to people outside the church.’
    • ‘He remembers when he began to minister to the people of Strangford there was a congregation of some 25-but that figure has now reduced to just two local church goers.’
    1. 2.1with object Administer (a sacrament)
      ‘bishops in England were faced with a loss of priests to minister the sacraments’
      • ‘Will you continue as faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, preaching the Gospel of Christ, and ministering his holy sacraments?’
      • ‘It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.’
      • ‘But thirteen years have passed, and Augustine was now responsible for ministering the word and sacraments to his people.’
      • ‘With deep humility and abandonment to the Lord, she remained close to Jesus and so could continue ministering his love, his grace, and his transforming power to everyone she met.’
      • ‘The church was able to thank God for his faithfulness and say ‘Thank you’ to those who have ministered the Word over the years.’
      • ‘Transformed by the Eucharist we have received, we are sent to minister Jesus' presence to the lonely, downtrodden, and oppressed.’
      • ‘To be an encourager, is to be the Holy Spirit's chosen instrument to minister God's grace to his often beleaguered saints.’
      • ‘Having reduced the language to writing they ministered the gospel to this isolated people group.’
      • ‘What are we seeking to do as we prepare to minister God's word to God's precious people and those others who are always to be found in their midst?’
      • ‘At their ordination, priests receive power to minister the life of God through the sacraments so that all believers might be empowered to give that life to the world.’
      • ‘His hopes were focused on those churches where the Word of God was faithfully ministered - ‘not dry Calvinism, God save us from that!’’


Middle English (in minister (sense 2 of the noun)); also in the sense ‘a person acting under the authority of another’): from Old French ministre (noun), ministrer (verb), from Latin minister ‘servant’, from minus ‘less’.