Minister - minster

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Be careful not to mistype minster for minister (or vice versa). This is an easy mistake to make, but it can be hard to spot.

  • A minister is either a person appointed to be head of a government department (e.g., to be Minister of Education or Foreign Minister) or a member of the clergy in certain denominations of the Christian Church (e.g., in the Presbyterian Church or the Methodist Church). Older forms of Christianity have priests, who are seen as people consecrated to the service of God; newer forms, particularly the Protestant denominations, have ministers, people whose duty is to provide for the congregation of people that they serve.
    • As a verb, 'to minister' means 'to supply such things as may be of comfort', or 'to look after in a practical way'. One can "minister to the sick". In many Christian contexts, this is a duty of a Minister of religion: to take the 'comforts of religion' to people who are bed-ridden, or kept to the house, by illness.
  • The word minster (with only one '-i-') is applied to any of a small group of English cathedrals or large churches which were originally connected with monasteries. For further details see cathedral - minster.

Etymological note; Although they differ from one another only by a single letter, the words minster and minister have very different etymologies: minster comes, through the (unattested) Vulgar Latin monisterium, from the Church Latin monasterium, ‘monastery’; while minister comes, through Old French, from the Classical Latin minister, ‘attendant’, ‘servant’, ‘helper’.