I could have sworn that I have heard/read the word “steward” in a context similar to the following:
“His precise measurements of the motion of mercury, made over the course of eight consecutive years, made him a steward of science.”
In the sentence above, it’s clear that steward is taken to mean, roughly, “One who upholds core values”. However, the word as per the Merriam-Webster dictionary is,
Steward [noun | stew·ard | \ˈstü-ərd, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd]
(1) a person and especially a man whose job is to serve meals and take care of passengers on a train, airplane, or ship
(2) someone who protects or is responsible for money, property, etc.
(3) a person whose job is to manage the land and property of another person
It seems like the definition I am thinking of can be thought of as a mild contortion/stretching of the standard definition.
Can “steward” take on such a meaning that I have outlined in my example sentence, or am I gravely mistaken? Regardless of whether or not it is, could you give me words which match my hypothesized definition (i.e. words that mean “One who upholds core values”)?
It’s right there in the definition you quote, entry (2).
“Someone who protects or is responsible for … etc.” – what they are responsible for is ‘the reputation and honor of science’
See also stewardship
the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.