Definitions

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

  • n. One of a group made up especially of the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel.
  • n. A missionary of the early Christian Church.
  • n. A leader of the first Christian mission to a country or region.
  • n. One of the 12 members of the administrative council in the Mormon Church.
  • n. One who pioneers an important reform movement, cause, or belief: an apostle of conservation.
  • n. A passionate adherent; a strong supporter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A missionary, or leader of a religious mission, especially one in the early Christian Church (but see Apostle).
  • n. A pioneer or early advocate of a particular cause, prophet of a belief.
  • n. A top-ranking ecclesiastical official in the twelve seat administrative council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • n. A person who is plucked, i.e. refused an academic degree.
  • n. A letter dismissory.
  • n. A note sent to an appeal court presenting the appeal in summary.
  • n. The trial court record sent to an appeal court concerning an appeal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Literally: One sent forth; a messenger. Specifically: One of the twelve disciples of Christ, specially chosen as his companions and witnesses, and sent forth to preach the gospel.
  • n. The missionary who first plants the Christian faith in any part of the world; also, one who initiates any great moral reform, or first advocates any important belief; one who has extraordinary success as a missionary or reformer.
  • n. A brief letter dimissory sent by a court appealed from to the superior court, stating the case, etc.; a paper sent up on appeals in the admiralty courts.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person sent to execute some important business: among the Jews of the Christian epoch, a title borne by persons sent on foreign missions, especially by those commissioned to collect the temple tribute; specifically adopted by Christ as the official title of twelve of his disciples chosen and sent forth to preach the gospel to the world (Luke vi. 13); afterward applied in the New Testament to others who performed apostolic functions, as Paul and Barnabas, and once to Christ himself (Heb. iii. 1).
  • n. In the Mormon Ch., the title of an official whose duty it is to be a special witness of the name of Christ, to build up and preside over the church, and to administer in all its ordinances.
  • n. In the liturgy of the early church, and in the modern Greek Church, the lesson from the epistles, usually taken from the writings of St. Paul; also, a book containing these lessons, printed in the order in which they are to be read.
  • n. In law, a brief statement of a case sent by a court whence an appeal has been taken to a superior court.
  • n. Nautical, a knighthead or bollard-timber where hawsers and heavy ropes are belayed.

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

  • n. any important early teacher of Christianity or a Christian missionary to a people
  • n. (New Testament) one of the original 12 disciples chosen by Christ to preach his gospel
  • n. an ardent early supporter of a cause or reform

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English apostol and from Old French apostle, both from Late Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos, messenger, from apostellein, to send off : apo-, apo- + stellein, to send; see stel- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French apostle, from Ancient Greek ἀπόστολος (apostolos, "one sent forth, apostle"). (Wiktionary)
See apostil. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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