Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person employed to handle correspondence, keep files, and do clerical work for another person or an organization.
  • n. An officer who keeps records, takes minutes of the meetings, and answers correspondence, as for a company.
  • n. An official who presides over an administrative department of state.
  • n. A desk with a small bookcase on top.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Someone entrusted with a secret; a confidant.
  • n. A person who keeps records, takes notes and handles general clerical work.
  • n. The head of a department of government.
  • n. A managerial or leading position in certain non-profit organizations, such as political parties, trade unions, international organizations.
  • n. A type of desk; a secretaire.
  • n. A species of bird; Sagittarius serpentarius.
  • v. To serve as a secretary of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who keeps, or is intrusted with, secrets.
  • n. A person employed to write orders, letters, dispatches, public or private papers, records, and the like; an official scribe, amanuensis, or writer; one who attends to correspondence, and transacts other business, for an association, a public body, or an individual.
  • n. An officer of state whose business is to superintend and manage the affairs of a particular department of government, and who is usually a member of the cabinet or advisory council of the chief executive
  • n. A piece of furniture, with conveniences for writing and for the arrangement of papers; an escritoire.
  • n. The secretary bird.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who is intrusted with private or secret matters; a confidential officer or attendant; a confidant.
  • n. A person who conducts correspondence, keeps minutes, etc., for another or others, as for an individual, a corporation, a society, or a committee, and who is charged with the general conduct of the business arising out of or requiring such correspondence, or the making of such records, etc.: as, a private secretary. Abbreviated Sec., sec.
  • n. An officer of state who is charged with the superintendence and management of a particular department of government.
  • n. A piece of furniture comprising a table or shelf for writing, and drawers, and pigeonholes for the keeping of papers: usually a high cabinet-shaped piece, as distinguished from a writing-table or desk.
  • n. In printing, a kind of script type in imitation of an engrossing-hand.
  • n. The secretary-bird or crane-vulture, Serpentarius secretarius.
  • Of a secretary; clerkly: noting a style of handwriting such as is used in engrossing.
  • Knowing secrets; confidential; able to keep a secret.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who is head of an administrative department of government
  • n. an assistant who handles correspondence and clerical work for a boss or an organization
  • n. a desk used for writing
  • n. a person to whom a secret is entrusted

Etymologies

Middle English secretarie, from Medieval Latin sēcrētārius, confidential officer, clerk, from Latin sēcrētus, secret; see secret.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin secretarius ("one entrusted with secrets"), from Latin secretus ("private, secret"), past participle of secernere ("to separate, set apart"), from se- ("apart") + cernere ("to separate"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • Also a cool bird. Image can be found here.

    August 26, 2008

  • That is freaking awesome, because it makes so much sense.

    August 11, 2008

  • According to Ammon Shea, the OED says secretary meant, in the 4th century, "one privy to a secret".

    August 9, 2008

  • I love the word secretary when used to mean a small writing desk. I used to have an antique secretary with darling little compartments and drawers with tiny handles.

    January 20, 2008