bap·​tism | \ ˈbap-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce baptism (audio) , especially Southern ˈbab- \

Definition of baptism

1a : a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community
b : a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification
c Christian Science : purification by or submergence in Spirit
2 : an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named

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Other Words from baptism

baptismal \ bap-​ˈtiz-​məl How to pronounce baptism (audio) , especially Southern  bab-​ \ adjective
baptismally \ bap-​ˈtiz-​mə-​lē How to pronounce baptism (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

In Christianity, baptism is the sacrament of admission to the church, symbolized by the pouring or sprinkling of water on the head or by immersion in water. The ceremony is usually accompanied by the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the doctrine originated by St. Paul, it signifies the wiping away of past sins and the rebirth of the individual into a new life. Judaism practiced ritual purification by immersion, and the Gospels report that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Baptism was an important ritual in the early church by the first century ce, and infant baptism appeared c. 200 ce. Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and most Protestant churches practice infant baptism. The Anabaptist reformers insisted on adult baptism after a confession of faith; modern Baptists and the Disciples of Christ also practice adult baptism.

Examples of baptism in a Sentence

There were over 100 baptisms at our church last year. He received the sacrament of baptism as an infant.
Recent Examples on the Web The Pearl investigation was my baptism into the world of terrorism. Chris Christie, WSJ, "Extradite Daniel Pearl’s Kidnapper," 28 Dec. 2020 And, lucky me, the next frigid baptism would be before dawn in four days. Tim Folger, National Geographic, "North America’s most valuable resource is at risk," 17 Nov. 2020 The result was a 44-16 baptism where the Crimson Tide was held scoreless the final 44 minutes of the game. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Clemson might be Public Enemy No. 1 of the College Football Playoff, but Ohio State football’s wounds cut the deepest," 22 Dec. 2020 Her baptism was a three-star review of Le Cafe at the Hotel Sofitel in Bloomington. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, "The highs and lows of early Twin Cities dining scene detailed by influential critic Joan Siegel," 28 Oct. 2020 The history of Christianity is one of cultural baptism, in which the faithful adopt and adapt the traditions of the societies around them. Stephen Ford, WSJ, "‘Happy Holidays’ Is Pro-Christmas," 10 Dec. 2020 Anabaptists stressed the separation of church and state, voluntary church membership by adult baptism, pacifism, and isolation from worldly corruption. Paula Wolf, National Geographic, "Fixated on Pennsylvania? Consider an Amish farm stay," 10 Nov. 2020 Will this satisfy the family members who are bugging and guilting you about baptism? Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Family members press for baby’s baptism," 8 Nov. 2020 Will this satisfy the family members who are bugging and guilting you about baptism? Amy Dickinson,, "Ask Amy: Family members press for baptism," 8 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'baptism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of baptism

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for baptism

Middle English baptisme

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Time Traveler for baptism

Time Traveler

The first known use of baptism was in the 14th century

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Statistics for baptism

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Baptism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for baptism


How to pronounce baptism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of baptism

: a Christian ceremony in which a small amount of water is placed on a person's head or in which a person's body is briefly placed under water


bap·​tism | \ ˈbap-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce baptism (audio) \

Kids Definition of baptism

: the act or ceremony of baptizing

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