Hail Mary


plural Hail Marys
: a Roman Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary that consists of salutations and a plea for her intercession
or less commonly Hail Mary pass : a long forward pass in football thrown into or near the end zone in a last-ditch attempt to score as time runs out
often used figuratively
The only potential cure is a stem-cell transplant, when you take somebody else's immune system and put it into yours. But right now that's kind of a Hail Mary pass.Douglas Cote, quoted in Bicycling

Examples of Hail Mary in a Sentence

He threw up a Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
Recent Examples on the Web Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is throwing a Hail Mary to secure the GOP nomination by depending on some unexpected allies to boost her ahead of her competitor, former President Donald Trump. Peyton Sorosinski, Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 31 Jan. 2024 One lawmaker and other Virginia businesspeople floated a Hail Mary idea to pair the arena with a casino in Tysons — drawing a hard no from Leonsis and Youngkin. Jonathan O'Connell, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2024 Use their prop bet builder to construct Hail Mary wagers with just a few clicks or create same-game parlays that ride on a single lucky pass. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 11 Mar. 2024 Would Gronkowski have snared Brady's Hail Mary for a Super Bowl miracle had the star tight end not been saddled with a high ankle sprain? Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 30 Jan. 2024 With little hope of finding Armstrong, authorities threw a Hail Mary pass. David K. Li, NBC News, 29 Jan. 2024 Now 27, she is set to stand trial in Santa Fe on Feb. 21 on charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering, after a judge rejected a Hail Mary motion her attorney filed to dismiss the case, in a hearing on Feb. 14. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Feb. 2024 The football drama at UCLA took a wild turn Monday when a desperate Martin Jarmond threw a Hail Mary pass through a torrential downpour. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 12 Feb. 2024 Hurts threw one last Hail Mary on the Eagles' next and final drive, which landed incomplete and ended the game. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, 10 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Hail Mary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


translation of Medieval Latin Ave, Maria, from the opening words

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Hail Mary was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near Hail Mary

Cite this Entry

“Hail Mary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Hail%20Mary. Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

Hail Mary

: a Roman Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary

More from Merriam-Webster on Hail Mary

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!