noun (1)
or·​a·​to·​ry | \ ˈȯr-ə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce oratory (audio) , ˈär- \
plural oratories

Definition of oratory

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a place of prayer especially : a private or institutional chapel The mansion contained an oratory for the family's private devotion.
2 capitalized : an Oratorian congregation, house, or church


noun (2)

Definition of oratory (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the art of speaking in public eloquently or effectively
2a : public speaking that employs oratory
b : public speaking that is characterized by the use of stock phrases and that appeals chiefly to the emotions

First Known Use of oratory

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

circa 1522, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for oratory

Noun (1)

Middle English oratorie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin oratorium, from Latin orare

Noun (2)

Latin oratoria, from feminine of oratorius oratorical, from orare

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oratory

Time Traveler for oratory

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for oratory

Cite this Entry

“Oratory.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oratory. Accessed 28 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for oratory


or·​a·​to·​ry | \ ˈȯr-ə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce oratory (audio) \

Kids Definition of oratory

1 : the art of making speeches
2 : the style of language used in important speeches

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on oratory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oratory

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oratory

Spanish Central: Translation of oratory

Nglish: Translation of oratory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oratory

Comments on oratory

What made you want to look up oratory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

January 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • image1642096650
  • Which is a synonym of bonhomie?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!