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From Middle English ussher, uscher, usscher, from Anglo-Norman usser and Old French ussier, uissier (porter, doorman) (compare French huissier), from Vulgar Latin *ustiārius (doorkeeper), from Latin ōstiārius, from ōstium (door). Akin to ōs (mouth). Probably a doublet of ostiary and huissier.



usher (plural ushers)

  1. A person, in a church, cinema etc., who escorts people to their seats.
  2. A male escort at a wedding.
  3. A doorkeeper in a courtroom.
  4. (obsolete) An assistant to a head teacher or schoolteacher; an assistant teacher.
    • 1751, [Tobias] Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), London: Harrison and Co., [], →OCLC:
      [H]e defrayed the expence of his entrance, and left him in the particular care and inspection of the usher, who [] though obliged by the scandalous administration of fortune to act in the character of an inferior teacher, had by his sole capacity and application, brought the school to that degree of reputation which it never could have obtained from the talents of his superior.
    • 1791, James Boswell, “(please specify the year)”, in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. [], London: [] Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly, [], →OCLC:
      He began to learn Latin with Mr. Hawkins, usher, or under-master of Lichfield school, ‘a man (said he) very skilful in his little way.’
      Oxford 2008 edition, page 33
  5. (dated, derogatory) Any schoolteacher.


Derived terms[edit]


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usher (third-person singular simple present ushers, present participle ushering, simple past and past participle ushered)

  1. To guide people to their seats.
    • 1836, “Boz” [pseudonym; Charles Dickens], Sketches by “Boz,” Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: John Macrone, [], →OCLC, chapter THE CURATE. THE OLD LADY. THE HALF-PAY CAPTAIN.:
      Her entrance into church on Sunday is always the signal for a little bustle in the side aisle, occasioned by a general rise among the poor people, who bow and curtsey until the pew-opener has ushered the old lady into her accustomed seat, dropped a respectful curtsey, and shut the door;
    • 1960 March, G. Freeman Allen, “Europe's most luxurious express - the "Settebello"”, in Trains Illustrated, page 140:
      Needless to say, one's seat must be booked in advance and a platoon of urbane officials, one to each door of the train, awaits passengers to usher them to their seats and relieve them of their bulkier baggage.
  2. To accompany or escort (someone).
    • 1898, John Lothrop Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic, page 509:
      Margaret was astonished at the magnificence of the apartments into which she was ushered.
  3. (figuratively) To precede; to act as a forerunner or herald.
    • 1912, Elizabeth Christine Cook, Literary Influences in Colonial Newspapers, 1704-1750, page 31:
      Thus the Harvard poets and wits ushered The New England Courant out of existence.
  4. (figuratively, transitive) To lead or guide somewhere.
    • 2011 December 29, Keith Jackson, “SPL: Celtic 1 Rangers 0”, in Daily Record[1]:
      McCoist unexpectedly ushered back a defender of his own with Kirk Broadfoot taking over from Steven Whittaker. There was, of course, another change, Kyle Bartley stepping in at centre-half to replace suspended Dorin Goian.

Derived terms[edit]