Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Proselytize

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is proselytize. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Proselytize is a formal word that means “to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group.”

// Eliza is a staunch environmentalist who always feels the need to proselytize to anyone who doesn’t drive an electric or hybrid car.


“… [Television mogul Shonda] Rhimes also stresses that, when it comes to her work and the shows she’s creating, she’s not trying to proselytize or push agendas, outside of simply expressing herself. ‘I don’t like to be preached at,’ Rhimes says, ‘and I’m not interested in preaching.’” — Zach Seemayer, ET Online(, 5 Jan. 2022

Did You Know?

Proselytize comes from the noun proselyte, meaning “a new convert,” which in turn ultimately comes from the Greek prosēlytos, meaning “stranger” or “newcomer.” When proselytize entered English in the 17th century, it had a distinctly religious connotation and meant simply “to recruit religious converts.” This meaning is still common, but today one can also proselytize in a broader sense—recruiting converts to one’s political party or pet cause, for example.

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