Etymology
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minister (n.)
Origin and meaning of minister

c. 1300, "man consecrated to service in the Christian Church, an ecclesiastic;" also "an agent acting for a superior, one who acts upon the authority of another," from Old French menistre "servant, valet, member of a household staff, administrator, musician, minstrel" (12c.) and directly from Latin minister (genitive ministri) "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (in Medieval Latin, "priest"), from minus, minor "less," hence "subordinate" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small") + comparative suffix *-teros. Formed on the model of magister (see master (n.)).

Minister views a man as serving a church; pastor views him as caring for a church as a shepherd cares for sheep; clergyman views him as belonging to a certain class; divine is properly one learned in theology, a theologian; parson, formerly a respectful designation, is now little better than a jocular name for a clergyman; priest regards a man as appointed to offer sacrifice. [Century Dictionary, 1895]

The political sense of "high officer of the state, person appointed by a sovereign or chief magistrate of a country as the responsible head of a department of the government" is attested from 1620s, from notion of "one who renders official service service to the crown." From 1709 as "a diplomatic representative of a country abroad." A minister without portfolio (1841, in a French context) has cabinet status but is not in charge of a specific department.

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minister (v.)
Origin and meaning of minister

early 14c., ministren, "to perform religious rites, provide religious services;" mid-14c., "to serve (food or drink);" late 14c. "render service, aid, or medicine; furnish means of relief or remedy" from Old French menistrer "to serve, be of service, administer, attend, wait on," and directly from Latin ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)). Related: Ministered; ministering.

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prime minister 

"leading minister of a government, the chief of the cabinet or ministry," 1640s, see prime (adj.) and minister (n.). Applied to the First Minister of State of Great Britain since 1694.

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metier (n.)

"one's skill, talent, or calling," 1792, from French métier "trade, profession," from Old French mestier "task, affair, service, function, duty," from Gallo-Roman *misterium, from Latin ministerium "office, service," from minister "servant" (see minister (n.)).

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minestrone (n.)
Italian vegetable soup, 1871, from Italian minestrone, with augmentative suffix -one + minestra "soup, pottage," literally "that which is served," from minestrare "to serve, to prepare (soup, etc.)," from Latin ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).
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ministration (n.)

mid-14c., ministracioun, "the action of ministering or serving, the rendering of personal service or aid," from Old French ministration or directly from Latin ministrationem (nominative ministratio), noun of action from past-participle stem of ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).

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ministerial (adj.)

1560s, in religion, "pertaining to the office, character, or habits of a clergyman;" 1650s, in politics, "of or pertaining to a minister or ministry of the state;" in some uses from French ministériel and directly from Medieval Latin ministerialis "pertaining to service, of a minister," from Latin ministerium "office, service, attendance, ministry," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)). In some cases probably directly from minister or ministry. Related: Ministerially.

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ministry (n.)

c. 1200, ministerie, "the office or function of a priest, a position in a church or monastery; service in matters of religion," from Old French menistere "service, ministry; position, post, employment" and directly from Latin ministerium "office, service, attendance, ministry," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).

From late 14c. as "personal service or aid." From 1560s as "the body of ministers of religion, the clerical class." From 1710 as "the body of ministers of state in a country." It began to be used 1916 in the names of certain departments in the British government.

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administer (v.)
Origin and meaning of administer

late 14c., aministren, later administren, "to manage as a steward, control or regulate on behalf of others," from Old French aministrer "help, aid, be of service to" (12c., Modern French administrer), and directly from Latin administrare "to help, assist; manage, control, guide, superintend; rule, direct," from ad "to" (see ad-) + ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).

The -d- was restored 14c.-16c. in French and after 15c. in English. In reference to punishment, justice, etc., "to dispense, bring into operation" (especially as an officer), from mid-15c. In reference to medicines, medical treatment, etc., "to give," from 1540s. Related: Administered; administering.

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*mei- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "small."

It forms all or part of: administer; administration; comminute; diminish; meiosis; Menshevik; menu; metier; mince; minestrone; minim; minimum; minister; ministration; ministry; minor; minuend; minuet; minus; minuscule; minute; minutia; Miocene; mis- (2); mite (n.2) "little bit;" mystery (n.2) "handicraft, trade, art;" nimiety.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit miyate "diminishes, declines;" Greek meion "less, smaller;" Latin minus, minor "smaller," minuere "to diminish, reduce, lessen;" Old English minsian "to diminish;" Russian men'she "less."

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