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

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 James really got baptism by fire throughout this year. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 11 Jan. 2022 Nick Saban intercepts the Gatorade baptism cooler and chugs the whole thing. J.d. Crowe |, al, 10 Jan. 2022 Detasseling is a right of passage for a certain segment of Midwesterners; a baptism by corn. Julian Epp, The New Republic, 5 Nov. 2021 The couple gave their baby son Wilfred a Catholic baptism in September. Peter Weber, The Week, 18 June 2021 There is nothing like baptism by fire to to prepare somebody for a career in something. CBS News, 2 June 2021 Alongside the Queen, Zara's mother Princess Anne also attended Sunday's double baptism, as did Eugenie's parents, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, reported The Sun, which broke the news of the occasion. Phil Boucher,, 24 Nov. 2021 Dear Amy: Regarding your answer to the reader who wrote a letter about baptism: Talk about offensive advice! Amy Dickinson, Star Tribune, 27 Nov. 2020 Both Mennonites and Amish hold many beliefs in common, such as adult baptism, simplicity and following the teachings of Jesus, but the Mennonites drive cars and have electricity in their homes, unlike the Amish, who typically don’t. Kris Maher, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near baptism



baptismal name

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Baptism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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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 How to pronounce baptism (audio) \

Kids Definition of baptism

: the act or ceremony of baptizing

More from Merriam-Webster on baptism

Nglish: Translation of baptism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of baptism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about baptism


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