bap·​tism | \ˈbap-ˌti-zəm, 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, especially Southern bab-​ \ adjective
baptismally \bap-​ˈtiz-​mə-​lē \ 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

There are accounts of Catholic baptisms and furtive gatherings among Catholic Koreans in the 1780s. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "Kim Jong Un Invites Pope Francis to North Korea," 9 Oct. 2018 Since Queen Elizabeth II was unable to attend her great-grandson's baptism in person on July 9, The Mirror speculated whether this was the royal family's way of honoring the Queen in the portrait. Eileen Reslen, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth II Still Made an Appearance in Prince Louis' Christening Portraits," 16 July 2018 Lentz and Bieber have grown close since the pastor performed the pop star’s impromptu baptism in 2014. Stephanie Petit,, "Inside Hillsong: All About the Church That's Attracted the Likes of Justin Bieber and Chris Pratt," 9 July 2018 People reports that the 18-carat white gold sparkler is meant to signify Meghan's baptism into the Church of England. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Why Meghan Markle and Camilla Parker Bowles Have Almost Identical Cross Bracelets," 18 July 2018 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip did not attend their great-grandson's baptism at Chapel Royal of St. James' Palace in London last week, and there was little explanation given for their absence. Eileen Reslen, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth II Still Made an Appearance in Prince Louis' Christening Portraits," 16 July 2018 Max Stassi's baptism as an entrenched Major Leaguer was completed Wednesday. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Max Stassi is establishing himself in Astros' lineup," 26 Apr. 2018 This day was like, six and a half baptisms, except worse, because Ted Cruz talked. Megan Angelo, Glamour, "THIS Is Must-See TV: All the Drama You Missed on Day One of Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearings," 4 Sep. 2018 Excommunicated Mormons and those not in good standing can't go inside temples where members are married and other ordinances such as baptisms for dead relatives are performed. Brady Mccombs, Fox News, "Mormon fighting to end youth interviews summoned to hearing," 30 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for baptism

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for baptism

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

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More Definitions for baptism



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 \

Kids Definition of baptism

: the act or ceremony of baptizing

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Comments on baptism

What made you want to look up baptism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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