Dictionary » S » Secretary



1. One who keeps, or is intrusted with, secrets.

2. 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. That which is most of all profitable is acquaintance with the secretaries, and employed men of ambassadors. (bacon)

3. 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; as, the secretary of state, who conducts the correspondence and attends to the relations of a government with foreign courts; the secretary of the treasury, who manages the department of finance; the secretary of war, etc.

4. A piece of furniture, with conveniences for writing and for the arrangement of papers; an escritoire.

5. (Science: zoology) The secretary bird. Secretary Bird. [So called in allusion to the tufts of feathers at the back of its head, which were fancifully thought to resemble pens stuck behind the ear.

(Science: zoology) A large long-legged raptorial bird (Gypogeranus serpentarius), native of south Africa, but now naturalized in the west Indies and some other tropical countries. It has a powerful hooked beak, a crest of long feathers, and a long tail. It feeds upon reptiles of various kinds, and is much prized on account of its habit of killing and devouring snakes of all kinds.

Synonym: serpent eater.

Origin: F. Secretaire (cf. Pr. Secretari, Sp. & Pg. Secretario, It. Secretario, segretario) LL. Secretarius, originally, a confidant, one intrusted with secrets, from L. Secretum a secret. See Secret, &.

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