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 Lambert, going through his big-league baptism by fire, continues to get roasted. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies continue to struggle in 16-9 loss to Dodgers," 2 Sep. 2019 The baptism ceremony began at about noon, starting with a speech by speaker William Turner III. Brieanna J. Frank, azcentral, "'Most powerful moment of your life': Large group of Jehovah's Witnesses get baptized at Chase Field," 10 Aug. 2019 After celebrating baby Archie's private baptism ceremony in a chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have released a number of photos in honor of the religious milestone. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Why Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip Aren't in Archie's Christening Portraits," 6 July 2019 The Archbishop of Canterbury performed the baptism ceremony, which the palace announced ahead of time on Wednesday, welcoming Queen Elizabeth II's eighth great-grandchild into the Church of England. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Duchess Meghan, Prince Harry share royal baby Archie's christening photo," 6 July 2019 The baptism ceremony will be held at Queen Elizabeth II’s private chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "It's Almost Time for Royal Baby Archie's Christening. Here's Everything We Know So Far.," 5 July 2019 Birth certificates did not exist in Bolivia until 1940, and births previously were registered with baptism certificates provided by Roman Catholic priests. Carlos Valdez, The Seattle Times, "Bolivian woman might be world’s oldest person, at nearly 118," 28 Aug. 2018 While addressing the baptism barrier, the new law has been criticized for leaving in place the dominant role of the Catholic Church in the schools. New York Times, "Ireland Takes On the Catholic Church Again. This Time It’s About Schools.," 1 June 2018 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

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

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for baptism

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

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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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