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

The judge has allowed him to travel a few times for special exceptions, such as to his father-in-law's funeral on Long Island and his godson's baptism in Virginia. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, "Judge sends Paul Manafort to jail, pending trial," 15 June 2018 In the days before Easter, Holy Land tour groups were arriving by the busload at the Israeli-run baptism site known as Qasr al-Yahud. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, "Clearing Land Mines From the Spot Where Jesus Is Said to Have Been Baptized," 1 Apr. 2018 Eight churches are scattered across the nearly 250-acre expanse of land that borders the baptism site. Washington Post, "Area around Jesus’ baptism site being cleared of land mines," 29 Mar. 2018 Eight churches are scattered across the nearly 250-acre expanse of land that borders the baptism site. Tia Goldenberg, Fox News, "Area around Jesus' baptism site being cleared of land mines," 29 Mar. 2018 Perhaps William showed Nicholas's brother the ropes before today's baptism ceremony. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Who Is Prince Louis's Godfather, Nicholas van Cutsem?," 9 July 2018 Every royal christening has used it since 1841 with the exception of Princes Eugenie, who had a public baptism, the Telegraph reports. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Royal Family Flew in Special Water for Prince Louis's Christening Today," 10 July 2018 Last year there were the fewest South Baptist baptisms since 1947—a clear sign of the church’s waning vitality. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "ChurchToo and Mike Pence’s Crisis of Faith," 21 June 2018 Although the Southern Baptists have seen an increase in the number of churches, which is now over 47,000, there's been a continuing decline in the number of baptisms and members. Lauren Green, Fox News, "Southern Baptists meet amid controversies as convention gears up for the future," 13 June 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

4 Oct 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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