noun, plural secretaries.
a person, usually an official, who is in charge of the records, correspondence, minutes of meetings, and related affairs of an organization, company, association, etc.: the secretary of the Linguistic Society of America.
a person employed to handle correspondence and do routine work in a business office, usually involving taking dictation, typing, filing, and the like.
(often initial capital letter) an officer of state charged with the superintendence and management of a particular department of government, as a member of the president's cabinet in the U.S.: Secretary of the Treasury.
Also called diplomatic secretary. a diplomatic official of an embassy or legation who ranks below a counselor and is usually assigned as first secretary, second secretary, or third secretary.
a piece of furniture for use as a writing desk.
Also called secretary bookcase. a desk with bookshelves on top of it.

1350–1400; Middle English secretarie one trusted with private or secret matters; confidant < Medieval Latin sēcrētārius < Latin sēcrēt(um) secret (noun) + -ārius -ary

secretaryship, noun
subsecretary, noun, plural subsecretaries.
subsecretaryship, noun
undersecretaryship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To secretary
World English Dictionary
secretary (ˈsɛkrətrɪ, -)
n , pl -taries
1.  a person who handles correspondence, keeps records, and does general clerical work for an individual, organization, etc
2.  the official manager of the day-to-day business of a society or board
3.  (in Britain) a senior civil servant who assists a government minister
4.  (in the US and New Zealand) the head of a government administrative department
5.  (in Britain) See secretary of state
6.  (in Australia) the head of a public service department
7.  diplomacy the assistant to an ambassador or diplomatic minister of certain countries
8.  another name for secretaire
[C14: from Medieval Latin sēcrētārius, from Latin sēcrētum something hidden; see secret]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

late 14c., "person entrusted with secrets," from M.L. secretarius "clerk, notary, confidential officer, confidant," from L. secretum "a secret" (see secret). Meaning "person who keeps records, write letters, etc.," originally for a king, first recorded c.1400. As title of
ministers presiding over executive departments of state, it is from 1590s. The word also is used in both French and English to mean "a private desk," sometimes in French form secretaire (1818).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


a writing desk fitted with drawers, one of which can be pulled out and the front lowered to provide a flat writing surface. There are many variations to this basic design. Early versions, which appeared in France in the first half of the 18th century, were made in one piece divided into two sections. The lower section consisted of a cupboard compartment closed in by solid or sliding doors that sometimes concealed a set of drawers; in some cases, however, the drawers were open to view. The upper section included a drop front that, when lowered, provided the writing surface and revealed an inner section fitted with various receptacles (such as pigeonholes, drawers, and recesses) for ink, paper, documents, and the like. Although this type persisted, a number of variations occurred, such as the addition of mirror doors above the upper, drop-front section and, later, the insertion of a space in the lower part of the secretary to accommodate the knees of the writer, the drawers being divided into two sections on either side of the arched recess.

Learn more about secretary with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The secretary, for instance, cannot relieve himself from the responsibility of his office by resigning.
He puts the question to vote on the nomination as described above, or as below, in case of the secretary.
If anyone knows about the need to avoid even the appearance of conflict, it's
  the deputy secretary.
Each group of experienced weavers has a small corporate structure with a board
  including a president, treasurer, and secretary.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature