a. One who is authorized to perform religious functions in a Christian church, especially a Protestant church.
b. Roman Catholic Church The superior in certain orders.
2. A high officer of state appointed to head an executive or administrative department of government.
3. An authorized diplomatic representative of a government, usually ranking next below an ambassador.
4. A person serving as an agent for another by carrying out specified orders or functions.
v. min·is·tered, min·is·ter·ing, min·is·ters
1. To attend to the wants and needs of others: Volunteers ministered to the homeless after the flood. See Synonyms at tend2.
2. To perform the functions of a cleric.
To administer or dispense (a sacrament, for example).
[Middle English ministre, from Old French, from Latin minister, servant; see mei-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.