bap·​tism ˈbap-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce baptism (audio)
 especially Southern  ˈbab-
: a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community
: a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification
Christian Science : purification by or submergence in Spirit
: an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named
bap-ˈtiz-məl How to pronounce baptism (audio)
 especially Southern  bab-
baptismally adverb

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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 Some Eastern Orthodox churches, such as Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian Christians, incorporated cross tattoos into baptism. Gustavo Morello, The Conversation, 10 July 2024 Away from the city, and indeed from the conflict entirely, certain traditions continue unimpeded: A river is a congregation point either for a mass baptism ritual on a chilly day, or for an escapist midsummer swim. Guy Lodge, Variety, 4 July 2024 Fernández issued a decree explicitly allowing transgender godparents and baptisms of transgender people. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, 24 June 2024 Listen to this article A 22-year-old man has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the drowning of his father during an exorcism-style baptism in a pond in Massachusetts nearly three years ago. Muri Assunção, New York Daily News, 26 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for baptism 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'baptism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English baptisme

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near baptism

Cite this Entry

“Baptism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


bap·​tism ˈbap-ˌtiz-əm How to pronounce baptism (audio)
: the act or ceremony of baptizing
: an act or experience that baptizes
a soldier's baptism of fire
baptismal adjective
baptismally adverb

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