a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: a martyr to the cause of social justice.
a person who undergoes severe or constant suffering: a martyr to severe headaches.
a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.
verb (used with object)
to make a martyr of, especially by putting to death.
to torment or torture.

before 900; (noun) Middle English marter, Old English martyr < Late Latin < Late Greek mártyr, variant of Greek mártys, mártyros witness; (v.) Middle English martiren, Old English martyrian, derivative of noun

martyrish, adjective
martyrly, adverb, adjective
unmartyred, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
martyr (ˈmɑːtə)
1.  a person who suffers death rather than renounce his religious beliefs
2.  a person who suffers greatly or dies for a cause, belief, etc
3.  a person who suffers from poor health, misfortune, etc: he's a martyr to rheumatism
4.  facetious, derogatory or a person who feigns suffering to gain sympathy, help, etc
5.  to kill as a martyr
6.  to make a martyr of
[Old English martir, from Church Latin martyr, from Late Greek martur-, martus witness]

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

O.E., from L.L., from Gk. martyr, earlier martys (gen. martyros) in Christian use "martyr," lit. "witness," probably related to mermera "care, trouble," from mermairein "be anxious or thoughtful," from PIE *(s)mrtu- (cf. Skt. smarati "remember," L. memor "mindful;" see
memory). Adopted directly into most Germanic languages, but O.N. substituted native formation pislarvattr, lit. "torture-witness." Related: Martyred. Martyr complex "exaggerated desire for self-sacrifice" is attested from 1931.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Martyr definition

one who bears witness of the truth, and suffers death in the cause of Christ (Acts 22:20; Rev. 2:13; 17:6). In this sense Stephen was the first martyr. The Greek word so rendered in all other cases is translated "witness." (1.) In a court of justice (Matt. 18:16; 26:65; Acts 6:13; 7:58; Heb. 10:28; 1 Tim. 5:19). (2.) As of one bearing testimony to the truth of what he has seen or known (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22; Rom. 1:9; 1 Thess. 2:5, 10; 1 John 1:2).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
He has also declared those demonstrators who have died defying the government
  to be martyrs.
He has also declared martyrs those demonstrators who died defying the
Perhaps that explains why so many saints end up as martyrs.
Every minute there are explosions, every minute there are martyrs.
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