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From Middle English messengere, messingere, messangere, from Old French messanger, a variant of Old French messagier (French messager), equivalent to message +‎ -er. Doublet of messager. Displaced native Old English boda (messenger, envoy) and ǣrendraca (messenger, ambassador).

For the replacement of -ager with -enger, -inger, -anger, compare passenger, harbinger, scavenger, porringer. This development may have been merely the addition of n, or it may have resulted due to contamination from other suffixes such as Middle English -ing and the rare Old French -ange, -enc, -inge, -inghe (-ing) for Old French -age (-age).



messenger (plural messengers)

  1. One who brings messages.
  2. The secretary bird.
  3. The supporting member of an aerial cable (electric power or telephone or data).
  4. (law) A person appointed to perform certain ministerial duties under bankrupt and insolvent laws, such as to take charge of the estate of the bankrupt or insolvent.
    • (Can we date this quote?), James Burrow, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King's Bench:
      The Messenger under the joint Commission of Bankruptcy might have seized the Whole, if they had remained in their Warehouse
  5. (computing) An instant messenger program.
    • 2006, United States. Congress. House. Committee on Energy and Commerce. Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Sexual exploitation of children over the Internet, page 395:
      The 4 primary messengers include [sic] AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, and MSN Messenger.
    • 2010, Tim Collins, A Woman's Guide to Internet Dating, A Male Perspective, page 49:
      Have them meet you on your favorite messenger program. IMs provide a means of instant chat without waiting on someone to respond back to you.
  6. (figurative) A forerunner or harbinger.
    a messenger of doom
  7. A light scudding cloud preceding a storm.
  8. A piece of paper, etc., blown up a string to a kite.
  9. (nautical) A light line with which a heavier line may be hauled e.g. from the deck of a ship to the pier.
  10. (oceanography) A weight dropped down a line to close a Nansen bottle.
  11. (Scotland) A messenger-at-arms.
  12. (bowling) A pin which travels across the pin deck to knock over another pin, usually for a strike.

Derived terms[edit]



messenger (third-person singular simple present messengers, present participle messengering, simple past and past participle messengered)

  1. (transitive) To send something by messenger.
    I'll messenger over the signed documents.