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

Service of scripture, prayer, music and pageantry that reflects on 3 Epiphany mysteries: revelation of Christ child to Magi, baptism of Jesus in Jordan River, and turning of water into wine at wedding in Cana. Rasputin Todd,, "Things to do this weekend: Jan. 5-7," 2 Jan. 2018 Elliott uses DeAndre Hopkins’s public baptism as an example. Tim Rohan,, "Faith, Football and the Fervent Religious Culture at Dabo Swinney's Clemson," 4 Sep. 2019 Playing him on the third pairing (instead of last season’s baptism as a top-pairing guy, a result of injuries to veteran defensemen) should ease Cholowski’s growing pains. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings opening lineup projections: Who's in and who's out," 8 July 2019 Archie’s baptism was not held in the same place as his parents’ wedding, which took place in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle last year. Rachel E. Greenspan, Time, "Photos of Royal Baby Archie at His Christening Are Here," 6 July 2019 The Queen has not attended all of her great-grandchildren’s christenings in the past, having missed Prince Louis’ baptism last year. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Why the Queen Will Not Attend Archie Harrison's Christening This Weekend," 5 July 2019 United will begin the 2019/20 WSL season with a ‘baptism of fire’ style derby clash against local rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on 7 September., "Man Utd Women Confirm Signing of Swedish Defender Lotta Okvist," 20 Aug. 2019 The race director billed it as baptism for runners. Bill Blewett,, "Churchville resident Matt Burdette burning up 100-mile courses," 1 Aug. 2019 While the monarch attended the christenings of Prince George and Princess Charlotte in recent years, she was noticeably absent from Prince Louis's baptism last year. Matthew Robinson, CNN, "Meghan and Harry release new photo of Archie for Father's Day," 16 June 2019

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

18 Oct 2019

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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 How to pronounce baptism (audio) \

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).


involving a confidence or trust

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