Definitions

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

  • n. A diplomatic official of the highest rank appointed and accredited as representative in residence by one government or sovereign to another, usually for a specific length of time.
  • n. A diplomatic official heading his or her country's permanent mission to certain international organizations, such as the United Nations.
  • n. An authorized messenger or representative.
  • n. An unofficial representative: ambassadors of goodwill.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent there his sovereign or country.
  • n. An official messenger and representative.
  • n. A trick to duck some ignorant fellow or landsman, frequently played on board ships in the warm latitudes. It is thus managed: A large tub is filled with water, and two stools placed on each side of it. Over the whole is thrown a tarpaulin, or old sail: this is kept tight by two persons, who are to represent the king and queen of a foreign country, and are seated on the stools. The person intended to be ducked plays the Ambassador, and after repeating a ridiculous speech dictated to him, is led in great form up to the throne, and seated between the king and queen, who rising suddenly as soon as he is seated, he falls backwards into the tub of water. (1811 Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue)
  • n. A corporate representative, often the public face of the company.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent there his sovereign or country.
  • n. An official messenger and representative.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A diplomatic agent of the highest rank, employed to represent officially one prince or state at the court or to the government of another.
  • n. Hence — In general, any diplomatic agent of high rank; an agent or a representative of another on any mission.
  • n. A thing sent as expressive of the sentiments of the sender.

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

  • n. a diplomat of the highest rank; accredited as representative from one country to another
  • n. an informal representative

Etymologies

Middle English ambassadour, from Old French ambassadeur, from Medieval Latin ambactia, mission, from Latin ambactus, servant, ultimately of Celtic origin; see ag- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English ambassadore, from Anglo-Norman ambassaduer, ambassateur, from Old Italian ambassatore, ambassadore, from Old Provençal ambaisador ("ambassador"), derivative of ambaissa ("service, mission, errand"), from Gothic 𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌱𐌰𐌷𐍄𐌹 (andbahti, "service, function"), from Proto-Germanic *ambahtijan (“service, office”), derivative of Proto-Germanic *ambahtaz (“servant”), of Celtic origin, from Gaulish *ambactos (“servant”), from Proto-Indo-European *ambʰi- (“around”) + Proto-Indo-European *aǵ- (“to drive”). More at umbe, agent. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term ambassador, if taken strictly, as seems to be required by the second of the articles of Confederation, comprehends the highest grade only of public ministers, and excludes the grades which the United States will be most likely to prefer, where foreign embassies may be necessary.

    The Federalist Papers

  • The term ambassador conjures the picture of a rich duplicitous Jeremy Irons-type guy living in a foreign country and lying to everyone there on behalf of rich guys back in his home country.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • Facebook group to expell the Irish Papal Nuncio (that's what they call their ambassador)

    Planet Atheism

  • i thought the term ambassador was reserved for representatives of various countries and international organizations dedicated to helping people like the UN.

    People.com Latest News

  • Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry.

    POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: November 12, 2009

  • He is challenged by a man named Kerk Pyrrus (who turns out to be the ambassador from the planet Pyrrus) to turn a large amount of money into an immense sum by gambling at a government-run casino.

    March 2009

  • An ambassador is placed in another nation upon interest of a country.

    Epoch Times - U.S. Ambassador Talks With Human Rights' Lawyers in ...

  • Sudan's U.N. ambassador is warning the country could slip back into civil war if a referendum goes ahead in the oil-rich Abyei region in January without consent from Khartoum.

    Sudanese Envoy Warns of War if Referendum Goes Ahead in Abyei

  • The center's new dean, Lauren Kahea Moriarty, a retired U.S. ambassador, is the daughter of Inouye's former close aide.

    In history of Hawaiian leaders, Daniel Inouye stands alone

  • Mr. Sha, who was previously China's U.N. ambassador, is known for his unharmonious outbursts; at a meeting in September he told his boss, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "I never liked you."

    The Harmony Prize

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