1 of 2

noun (1)

or·​a·​to·​ry ˈȯr-ə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce oratory (audio)
plural oratories
: a place of prayer
especially : a private or institutional chapel
The mansion contained an oratory for the family's private devotion.
capitalized : an Oratorian congregation, house, or church


2 of 2

noun (2)

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

Examples of oratory in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The young Benjamin began doing readings of his poetry in a church and was called by the church elders Zephaniah, an Old Testament prophet, for his oratory. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2023 Jen Psaki, who avoids the hammer-and-tong oratory used by many primetime news hosts, recently saw her purview at MSNBC expand to Monday. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 Possibly, his mere celebrity presence and oratory skills overawed his audiences. Albert Camus, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 Those were the very words Helen herself spoke at the age of 10, in a prize-winning speech in a 1937 oratory competition. Nicholas P. Brown, NBC News, 4 Oct. 2023 As notable as those oddities and antics are, here are some of the biggest talking points from Wednesday’s oratory merry-go-round that featured representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky. Ainslie Lee | Alee@al.com, al, 19 July 2023 Many remember the sweeping, hopeful, spiritual oratory of what at times seems more like a sermon. DR. ABC News, 27 Aug. 2023 Zelenskyy’s visit to the United States was intended to take advantage of his powerful oratory to sway wavering voices. Michael Birnbaum, David L. Stern, Serhiy Morgunov and Abigail Hauslohner, The Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Sep. 2023 Zelensky’s visit to the United States was intended to take advantage of his powerful oratory to sway wavering voices. Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

circa 1522, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near oratory

Cite this Entry

“Oratory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oratory. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
or·​a·​to·​ry ˈȯr-ə-ˌtōr-ē How to pronounce oratory (audio)
plural oratories
: a place for prayer
especially : a private chapel


2 of 2 noun
: the art of an orator
: oratorical language or speeches

More from Merriam-Webster on oratory

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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