• WordNet 3.6
    • v martyr torture and torment like a martyr
    • v martyr kill as a martyr "Saint Sebastian was martyred"
    • n martyr one who suffers for the sake of principle
    • n martyr one who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty for refusing to renounce their religion
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Martyr Hence, one who sacrifices his life, his station, or what is of great value to him, for the sake of principle, or to sustain a cause. "Then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell,
      Thou fall'st a blessed martyr !"
    • Martyr One who, by his death, bears witness to the truth of the gospel; one who is put to death for his religion; as, Stephen was the first Christian martyr . "To be a martyr , signifies only to witness the truth of Christ; but the witnessing of the truth was then so generally attended with persecution, that martyrdom now signifies not only to witness, but to witness by death."
    • Martyr To persecute; to torment; to torture. "The lovely Amoret, whose gentle heart
      Thou martyrest with sorrow and with smart."
      "Racked with sciatics, martyred with the stone."
    • Martyr To put to death for adhering to some belief, esp. Christianity; to sacrifice on account of faith or profession.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n martyr Originally, a witness; one who bears testimony to his faith. [Thus the grandsons of Judas, accused before Domitian, and released unscathed, were always regarded as martyrs.]
    • n martyr One who willingly suffers death rather than surrender his religious faith; one who bears witness to the sincerity of his faith by submitting to death in asserting it; specifically, one of those Christians who in former times were put to death because they would not renounce their religious belief: as, Stephen was the first martyr (called the protomartyr); the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
    • n martyr One who suffers death or grievous loss in defense or on behalf of any belief or cause, or in consequence of supporting it: as, he died a martyr to his political principles or to his devotion to science.
    • n martyr Hence One who suffers greatly from any cause; one who is afflicted; a victim of misfortune, calamity, or disease: as, a martyr to gout, or to tight lacing.
    • n martyr [⟨ martyr, v.] An old instrument of torture in which the victim was subjected to agonizing pressure.
    • n martyr In wine-making, a wooden box used for pressing grapes.
    • martyr To put to death as a punishment for adherence to some religious belief, especially for adherence to Christianity; hence, to put to death for the maintaining of any obnoxious belief or cause.
    • martyr To put to death for any cause; destroy, as in revenge or retaliation; torture.
    • martyr To persecute as a martyr; afflict; despoil; torment.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Martyr mär′tėr one who by his death bears witness to the truth: one who suffers for his belief: one who suffers greatly from any cause
    • v.t Martyr to put to death for one's belief
    • ***


  • Tertullian
    “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
    “It is the cause, not the death that makes the martyr.”
  • Albert Camus
    “Martyrs, my friend, have to choose between being forgotten, mocked or used. As for being understood -- never.”
  • E. M. Cioran
    E. M. Cioran
    “Great persecutors are recruited among martyrs whose heads haven't been cut off.”
  • Aleister Crowley
    “The people who have really made history are the martyrs.”
  • Horace Mann
    “It is more difficult, and it calls for higher energies of soul, to live a martyr than to die one.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
AS., from L. martyr, Gr. ma`rtyr ma`rtys, prop., a witness; cf. Skr. smṛ, to remember, E. memory,


In literature:

He and his principal follower were seized and about to be martyred.
"Expositions of Holy Scripture" by Alexander Maclaren
Here were the acts of the martyrs portrayed before him in words that burned.
"The Martyr of the Catacombs" by Anonymous
The death of 'my martyr Essex' increased his dislike.
"Sir Walter Ralegh" by William Stebbing
The martyrs bore more than that!
"The Temptation of St. Antony" by Gustave Flaubert
Diocletian had ordered a persecution against it, the last and most terrible which its martyrs suffered.
"The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 03" by Various
Very soon the dark walls beheld another prisoner, Archbishop Cranmer, a martyr in Queen Mary's reign.
"The Children's Book of London" by Geraldine Edith Mitton
The heritage of centuries of heroic blood from the martyrs of old Scotland began to flash its inspiration from the past.
"The Clansman" by Thomas Dixon
"The Huguenots in France" by Samuel Smiles
Did this family (which is now supposed to be extinct) claim descent from Endymion Porter, the loyal and devoted adherent of King Charles the Martyr?
"Notes and Queries, Number 207, October 15, 1853" by Various
In exceptional cases it sufficed for a martyr to be sprinkled with his own blood.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 3" by Various
It represents the "Choir of Martyrs," a group of seven figures.
"Luca Signorelli" by Maud Cruttwell
Hence Noah is the martyr of martyrs.
"Commentary on Genesis, Vol. II" by Martin Luther
And 'tis never well to make a martyr or an hero of thine adversary.
"Robin Tremayne" by Emily Sarah Holt
It has no missionaries, no crusaders, no martyrs.
"Critical and Historical Essays, Volume III (of 3)" by Thomas Babington Macaulay
Alban is said to have been martyred at Verulamium, and Julius and Aaron at Isca Silurum.
"A Student's History of England, v. 1 (of 3)" by Samuel Rawson Gardiner
In 1809, M. de Chateaubriand published 'The Martyrs.
"Memoirs To Illustrate The History Of My Time" by François Pierre Guillaume Guizot
To all which the martyr gave pertinent answers.
"Biographia Scoticana (Scots Worthies)" by John Howie
She didn't see how Anne dared bait the scowling martyr.
"The Prisoner" by Alice Brown
The holy martyr, the Queen of England, had been saved.
"The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon" by J.A. Froude
Then by loving hands the martyr's body was placed in its narrow tomb.
"Valeria" by William Henry Withrow

In poetry:

To-day the hero-martyr's grave
Is shaken by the armed tread
Of patriotic soldiers o'er his head
Not by the footsteps of one slave!
"The Battle Autumn of 1862" by Kate Seymour Maclean
As for my neighbors,
the worker Osman and the martyr Aysha,
they felt the great longing while alive,
maybe without even knowing it.
"Last Will And Testament" by Nazim Hikmet
He shall be washed as white as snow,
By all the martyr'd virgins kiss,
While the True Church remains below
Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.
"The Hippopotamus" by T S Eliot
"Holy or not, or right or wrong,
Thy altar, and its rites, I spurn;
Not sainted martyr's sacred song,
Not God himself, shall make me turn!"
"The Wild Huntsman" by Sir Walter Scott
Firm are the pillars that defy
The volleyed thunders of the sky;
Sweet are the summer wreaths that twine
With bud and flower our martyrs' shrine.
"Hymn For The Dedication Of Memorial Hall At Cambridge, June 23, 1874" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Dear martyrs of the war,
Remember, where you are,
Boys who have still
To do, to bear, to attain
To your glory and your gain --
By what steep hill?
"The Boys Of The House: For Valentine and Hubert Blake" by Katharine Tynan

In news:

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Nasrallah addresses supporters during a rally marking the party's Martyrs Day in Beirut.
The Belgian missionary and martyr who will be canonized (along with Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope) this Sunday by Pope Benedict XVI.
"Speaking for those five members, they do consider themselves martyrs and heroes for the cause, and they don't mind their mug shots being printed," Boelgin told Static.
Mourning Held for ' Martyr ' Saber.
Gadhafi vowed to fight on against protesters demanding his ouster and die as martyr .
But the international community is likely to think twice before pushing the martyr -talking Qaddafi to the brink.
Gadhafi vows to 'die a martyr ' rather than flee Libya.
News Yep, a Martyr Book Was Found in the Desert.
Gunman Likely Viewed Himself as Environmentalist Martyr , Former FBI Profiler Says.
During the 1979 Islamic revolution, dead demonstrators were dubbed martyrs , inspiring crowds of religious Iranians who felt that the ruling shah's troops were seeking to suppress Iran's Islamic identity.
Attitudes are more muted this time, with few of the casualties being universally accepted as martyrs .
Typically, individuals who sacrifice their lives for the sake of Islam or one of its precepts are called martyrs .
I wonder if we "construct" martyrs today for our own benefit as much as some martyrs also seek their own martyrdom, or a version thereof.
She is a very attractive young woman, an image that I think evokes the early virgin- martyrs of the church, perhaps.
Settle into the grass beside the 143-foot-tall PRISON SHIP MARTYR 'S MONUMENT.