Definition of martyr in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmärdər/


1A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs: saints, martyrs, and witnesses to the faith
More example sentences
  • Rather, martyrdom only makes sense when one takes seriously the martyrs ' religiosity.
  • French and Dutch Protestants claimed new martyrs in the religious and civil wars convulsing their countries.
  • He dies more or less a martyr to save a Christian friend.
1.1A person who displays or exaggerates their discomfort or distress in order to obtain sympathy or admiration: she wanted to play the martyr
More example sentences
  • Those who love to play the martyr submerge their own personalities. They devote a lifetime to unnecessary servitude and privation.
  • He seemed to embrace the role of the free-speech martyr.
  • Don't let yourself become attached to a martyr complex.
1.2 (martyr to) A constant sufferer from (an ailment): I’m a martyr to migraines!
More example sentences
  • Mr. Brown, who owned a china shop in Michigan, was a martyr to headaches.
  • Ever since he first stood upright, man has been a martyr to his back.
  • It is a martyr to mildew however and I have found it grows best in damp soil with shade for at least part of the day.


[with object] (usually be martyred)
1Kill (someone) because of their beliefs: she was martyred for her faith
More example sentences
  • ‘Our two security guards were martyred and the suicide bomber was killed,’ said the witness.
  • He fought tooth and nail with terrorists killing three of them, but at last he was martyred.
  • However, in 1539 he was martyred, being burnt alive in Innsbruck on direct orders from Emperor Ferdinand I.
1.1Cause great pain or distress to: there was no need to martyr themselves again
More example sentences
  • Her poor, martyred heart is then subjected to all the glorious pains of unfulfilled love we associate with the Petrarchan traditions of the late Elizabethan era.
  • Only fools martyr themselves needlessly.
  • You have the right to martyr yourself if you like, but NO ONE has the right to martyr their children!



Pronunciation: /ˌmärtərəˈzāSHən/
Example sentences
  • Such a move would shatter the possibility for martyrization within the community. He could take his life, but not by his own hands.
  • In each case, government persecution contributed to martyrization of the individuals and their value systems.
  • At the same time, a martyrization effect occurs, often seen in hostages and prostitutes who have encountered sexual or mental violence for long periods.


Pronunciation: /ˈmärdəˌrīz/
Example sentences
  • Of course, we need * real * good material and people prepared to be lynched and martyrized as good precursors always are.
  • Those who know Parisian life will readily understand how a woman of her temperament suffered, and was martyrized at heart by the scantiness of her pecuniary means.
  • The Apostle James (the Elder) James was martyrized, and his body miraculously ended up in Spain.


Old English martir, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek martur 'witness' (in Christian use, 'martyr').

Words that rhyme with martyr

barter, Bata, cantata, carter, cassata, charter, chipolata, ciabatta, darter, desiderata, errata, garter, imprimatur, Inkatha, Jakarta, Magna Carta, Maratha, Odonata, passata, persona non grata, rata, Renata, Río de la Plata, serenata, sonata, Sparta, starter, strata, taramasalata, tartar, Tatar, Zapata

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mar·tyr

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