Sec"re*ta*ry (?), n.; pl.
Secretaries (#). [F. secrétaire (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, a. &
n.] 1. One who keeps, or is
intrusted with, secrets. [R.]
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
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,
4. A piece of furniture, with conveniences for
writing and for the arrangement of papers; an escritoire.
5. (Zoöl.) The secretary
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.] (Zoöl.)
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. Called also serpent
Syn. -- See the Note under Clerk,