AskDefine | Define ambassador

Dictionary Definition



1 a diplomat of the highest rank; accredited as representative from one country to another [syn: embassador]
2 an informal representative; "an ambassador of good will"

User Contributed Dictionary



From Latin ambactus (servant).


IPA: WEAE /æmˈbæs.ə.dɚ/ or /-ˌdɔɹ/


  1. A minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent there his sovereign or country.
    Note: Ambassadors are either ordinary [or resident] or extraordinary, that is, sent upon some special or unusual occasion or errand. --Abbott.
  2. An official messenger and representative.
  1. A trick to duck some ignorant fellow or landsman, frequently played on board ships in the warm latitudes. It is thus managed: A large tub is filled with water, and two stools placed on each side of it. Over the whole is thrown a tarpaulin, or old sail: this is kept tight by two persons, who are to represent the king and queen of a foreign country, and are seated on the stools. The person intended to be ducked plays the Ambassador, and after repeating a ridiculous speech dictated to him, is led in great form up to the throne, and seated between the king and queen, who rising suddenly as soon as he is seated, he falls backwards into the tub of water. (1811 Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue)

Related terms



See also

Extensive Definition

An ambassador is a diplomatic official accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization, to serve as the official representative of his or her own country. In everyday usage it applies to the ranking government representative stationed in a foreign capital. The host country typically allows the ambassador control of specific territory called an embassy, whose territory, staff, and even vehicles are generally afforded diplomatic immunity in the host country.
The senior diplomatic officers among members of the Commonwealth of Nations are known as High Commissioners, who are the heads of High Commissions. Representatives of the Holy See are known as Papal or Apostolic Nuncios.
Historically, officials representing their countries abroad were termed ministers, but this term was also applied to diplomats of the second rank. The Congress of Vienna of 1815 formalized the system of diplomatic rank under international law:
Ambassadors are ministers of the highest rank, with plenipotentiary authority to represent their head of state. In modern usage, most Ambassadors on foreign postings as head of mission carry the full title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. "Ordinary" Ambassadors and non-plenipotentiary status are rarely used, although they may be encountered in certain circumstances.
Moreover, a Resident Ambassador is one who resides within the country to which (s)he is accredited. A Non-Resident Ambassador does not reside within the country to which (s)he is accredited but lives in a nearby country. Thus, a resident ambassador to a country might at the same time also be a non-resident ambassador to one or more other countries; this may be phrased as "Ambassador to" ... "with concurrent accreditation to" another country.
Among European powers, the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary (French ambassadeur extraordinaire et plénipotentiaire or German außerordentlicher und bevollmächtigter Botschafter) was historically deemed the personal representative of the Sovereign, and the custom of dispatching ambassadors to the head of state rather than the government has persisted. For example, ambassadors to and from the United Kingdom are accredited to or from the Royal Court of St. James's (referring to St. James's Palace).
Because 33 members of the Commonwealth of Nations have or had a common head of state, they do not exchange ambassadors, but instead have High Commissioners which represent the government, rather than the head of state. In diplomatic usage, High Commissioner is considered an equivalent rank and role to an Ambassador.
Ranking below full ambassador are the rank of Envoy, Minister resident and Chargé d'affaires. They represent their government rather than their head of state. For further details, see diplomatic rank.
While the title generally reflects the Ambassador's position as head of a diplomatic mission, in some countries the term may also represent a rank held by career diplomats, as a matter of internal promotion, regardless of the posting, and in many national careers it is quite common for them to be appointed to other functions, especially within the ministry/ministries in charge of foreign affairs, in some countries in systematic alteration with actual postings.
The formal form of address for an ambassador is generally the form that would be used to address a head of state: "(Your/His/Her) Excellency" followed by name and/or the country represented. In many countries, less formal variations are frequently used, such as "Ambassador" followed by name, or the name followed by "Ambassador of...". In the United States, "Mr. Ambassador" may be used.
In some countries, a former Ambassador may continue to be styled and addressed as Ambassador throughout his or her life (in the United States, "Mr. Ambassador" or equivalent terms for females may be heard). In other countries, Ambassador is a title that accrues to the individual only with respect to a specific position, and may not be used after leaving the position. Some countries do not use the term while an Ambassador is in the home country, as the individual is not an Ambassador there; for example, a Canadian Ambassador while in Canada is not generally addressed as Ambassador, although he or she may be referred to as "Canadian Ambassador to ...", that is, with reference to a specific job function; they are never addressed or styled as Ambassador after leaving a position or retiring.

Extraordinary postings

Not unlike many diplomats of the lower rank of Resident (Minister) or the usually full rank of high commissioner, or in other circumstances a Consular representative, an ambassador can in specific historical conditions be entrusted with a task that is no less administrative than diplomatic, such as representing the protector in a protectorate of the subordinate kind, e.g. posted by France in the Saar (rather a mandate territory by another name, in part of Germany).

Non-diplomatic ambassadorships

In a less formal sense, the word is used for high-profile non-diplomatic representative of various entities (rarely states), mainly cultural and charitable organisations, often as willing figure heads to attract media attention, e.g. film and pop stars makes appeals to the public at large for UNESCO activities (see UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors), sometimes during press-swarmed visits in the field.
In French speaking regions such as France, Wallonia or Quebec, the title of ''ambassadeur person.

Relevant Books

Rana, K.(2004)."The 21st Century Ambassador: Plenipotentiary to Chief Executive" DiploFoundation ISBN 99909-55-18-2
ambassador in Arabic: سفير
ambassador in Bulgarian: Посланик
ambassador in Czech: Vyslanec
ambassador in Danish: Ambassadør
ambassador in German: Botschafter
ambassador in Estonian: Suursaadik
ambassador in Spanish: Embajador
ambassador in Esperanto: Ambasadoro
ambassador in French: Ambassadeur
ambassador in Croatian: Veleposlanik
ambassador in Indonesian: Duta Besar
ambassador in Italian: Ambasciatore
ambassador in Hebrew: שגריר
ambassador in Latvian: Vēstnieks
ambassador in Lithuanian: Ambasadorius
ambassador in Dutch: Ambassadeur
ambassador in Japanese: 大使
ambassador in Norwegian: Ambassadør
ambassador in Polish: Ambasador
ambassador in Russian: Посол
ambassador in Simple English: Ambassador
ambassador in Slovenian: Veleposlanik
ambassador in Finnish: Suurlähettiläs
ambassador in Slovak: Veľvyslanec
ambassador in Swedish: Ambassadör
ambassador in Turkish: Büyükelçi
ambassador in Chinese: 大使

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

agent, ambassadress, apostolic delegate, attache, career diplomat, chancellor, charge, commercial attache, consul, consul general, consular agent, delegate, deputy, diplomat, diplomatic, diplomatic agent, diplomatist, emissary, envoy, envoy extraordinary, foreign service officer, internuncio, legate, messenger, military attache, minister, minister plenipotentiary, minister resident, nuncio, plenipotentiary, representative, resident, secretary of legation, vice-consul, vice-legate
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