Definition of minister noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈmɪnɪstə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈmɪnɪstər//
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  1. 1  (also Minister) (in Britain and many other countries) a senior member of the government who is in charge of a government department or a branch of one the Minister of Education a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers senior ministers in the Cabinet cabinet ministers see also first minister, prime minister Wordfindercabinet, checks and balances, constitution, federal, government, minister, the Opposition, parliament, politics, system Culturedepartments of governmentThe government of the United Kingdom, formally called Her/​His Majesty's Government, consists of a group of ministers led by the prime minister. Ministers are attached to specialist departments which carry out government policy. Ministers of the Crown, the most senior ministers, are appointed by the queen or king on the recommendation of the prime minister. Other ministers are appointed directly by the prime minister. All ministers sit in Parliament, most of them in the House of Commons.The senior minister in each department is generally called the Secretary of State, e.g. the Secretary of State for Health. The minister in charge of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is called the Foreign Secretary. The Home Secretary is in charge of the Home Office. The finance minister is known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and is head of the Treasury. Ministers in charge of departments are usually members of the Cabinet. The prime minister may also appoint a Minister without Portfolio (= without departmental responsibilities) to take on special duties.A Secretary of State is usually supported by several Ministers of State, who each have a specific area of responsibility, and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State, often called junior ministers.Departments are run by civil servants who are not allowed to show favour to any political party. Unlike ministers, they do not have to leave their jobs when the government changes. Many departments are assisted by special groups that give advice and do research. A change of government does not necessarily affect the number and general organization of departments. A new government may, however, create new departments or change the structure of existing ones.Some departments, e.g. the Ministry of Defence, have responsibility for the whole of the United Kingdom. Others cover only part and the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have responsibility for the corresponding areas in Scotland and Wales. (note at devolution)The leader of the main opposition party appoints a shadow cabinet of shadow ministers. Each is responsible for speaking about an area of government.In the US the federal government has 15 departments. These, together with the president and various government agencies, make up the executive branch of the government and are responsible for its day-to-day operation.The people in charge of government departments are called secretaries. For example, the Department of Agriculture is led by the Secretary of Agriculture. The head of the State Department, the department that deals with US foreign policy, is called the Secretary of State. The President decides who will be the head of each department. Not all secretaries are well known: many people know the name of the Secretary of State, but few know the Secretary of Agriculture.Most of the people working in US government departments are civil servants whose jobs do not depend on political influence. In this way each department has a base of employees with a lot of knowledge and experience, whose careers last longer than a single political administration. Departments may be reorganized according to what issues seem important at a particular time but this kind of change does not happen very often.The heads of departments form a group called the Cabinet, which meets regularly with the President. The President is not required to accept their advice, but may choose to do so.
  2. 2   (in some Protestant Christian Churches) a trained religious leader a Methodist minister compare pastor, priest, vicar
  3. 3 a person, lower in rank than an ambassador, whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country
  4. Word OriginMiddle English (in sense (2); also in the sense ‘a person acting under the authority of another’): from Old French ministre (noun), ministrer (verb), from Latin minister ‘servant’, from minus ‘less’.Extra examples A new minister of defence had been appointed. Groups are lobbying the Transport Minister over the issue. He served briefly as prime minister from 1920 to 1921. He was ordained minister of a small rural congregation. Local authorities should submit schemes to the relevant minister for approval. Ministers are accountable to Parliament. Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister, Lord Burghley The foreign minister intervened with disastrous results. the minister responsible for the health service the new minister for the Arts
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: minister