from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that carries messages or performs errands, as:
  • n. A person employed to carry telegrams, letters, or parcels.
  • n. A military or official courier.
  • n. An envoy to another person, party, or government.
  • n. A bearer of news.
  • n. A forerunner; a harbinger: the crocus and other messengers of spring.
  • n. A prophet: the messenger of Allah.
  • n. Nautical A chain or rope used for hauling in a cable. Also called messenger line.
  • transitive v. To send by messenger.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who brings messages.
  • n. A light line with which a heavier line may be hauled e.g. from the deck of a ship to the pier.
  • n. The supporting member of an aerial cable (electric power or telephone or data).
  • v. To send something by messenger.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who bears a message; the bearer of a verbal or written communication, notice, or invitation, from one person to another, or to a public body; specifically, an office servant who bears messages.
  • n. One who, or that which, foreshows, or foretells.
  • n. A hawser passed round the capstan, and having its two ends lashed together to form an endless rope or chain; -- formerly used for heaving in the cable.
  • n. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who bears a message or goes on an errand; the bearer of a verbal or written communication, notice, or invitation; in the civil service, one employed in conveying official despatches.
  • n. One who or that which foreruns; a harbinger; a precursor: a forerunner.
  • n. A light scudding cloud regarded as the precursor of a storm or gale of wind.
  • n. Nautical, an endless rope or chain turned around the capstan, formerly used to unmoor or heave up a ship's anchors, by transmitting the power of the capstan to the cable.
  • n. In law, a person appointed to perform certain ministerial duties under bankrupt and insolvent laws, such as to take temporary charge of the assets, and to perform some other duties in reference to the proceedings.
  • n. A piece of stiff paper, or the like, set upon the end of a kite-string held in the hand, to be blown up the string to the kite

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who carries a message


Middle English messanger, from Old French messagier, from message, message; see message.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French messagier (French: messager), from message. (Wiktionary)



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  • Actually, that one makes sense. Message and passage, while both from French, came into Middle English, and once anglicized, they took on the English suffix. Massage came from French at a much later date, and has not been fully assimilated (thanks Bill!) into the English language, so it doesn't take on an English suffix.

    From etymonline, "c.1225, messager, from O.Fr. messagier, from message (see message). With parasitic -n- inserted by c.1300 for no apparent reason except that people liked to say it that way (cf. passenger, harbinger, scavenger)."

    Apparently, the n is excrescent.

    January 22, 2008

  • The same way 'passage' becomes 'passenger'?
    Or 'massage' doesn't become 'massenger'?

    You were expecting consistency from zees crazy language of ours?

    January 21, 2008

  • This word has always felt 'wrong'. How does 'message' become 'messenger' ? Would a 'messager' be the creator rather than someone who carried it?

    January 21, 2008