or·​dain | \ȯr-ˈdān \
ordained; ordaining; ordains

Definition of ordain 

transitive verb

1 : to invest (see invest entry 2 sense 1) officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority was ordained as a priest

2a : to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law : enact we the people … do ordain and establish this ConstitutionU.S. Constitution

b : destine, foreordain It is futile to try to avoid what destiny has ordained.

intransitive verb

: to issue an order so the gods have ordained

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Other Words from ordain

ordainer noun
ordainment \ ȯr-​ˈdān-​mənt \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ordain


constitute, enact, lay down, legislate, make, pass


repeal, rescind, revoke

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Examples of ordain in a Sentence

She is an ordained minister. The process was ordained by law.

Recent Examples on the Web

For a manner of nourishment that is biologically ordained, breastfeeding has long been subject to societal whims. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "The Breastfeeding Movement Is Experiencing a Tech Revolution—Here's How It's Helping New Moms," 11 Sep. 2018 The church was part of the Universal Life Church organization, which ordained Kell as a minister, according to the group’s website. Ben Brasch, ajc, "Cobb doc admits he lied to feds in case of $2M funneled through church," 2 May 2018 In recent days the White House and members of the administration have used Biblical passages from the New Testament to argue that this government is ordained by God. Rabbi Asher Knight - Special To The Observer Editorial Board, charlotteobserver, "Republicans are abusing religion to defend their abuse of children," 19 June 2018 Along the way, Carter and June pick up more accomplices, from a local police officer to a couple who believe they're ordained by God to steal money and start a church. Katie Walsh, latimes.com, "Caper comedy 'Carter & June' can't live up to Tarantino-influenced excess," 17 May 2018 Two seminarians with local ties, Tyler Kline and Matthew DeFusco, are on their way to the path to Catholic priesthood, as they were both ordained as deacons at the Basilica of the Assumption on May 26. Melissa Whatley, baltimoresun.com, "Recent Dulaney High grad recognized as student-athlete with a scholarship," 13 June 2018 He was ordained as a Catholic priest on Guam In December 1948 and would serve on the island for nearly 33 years as a teacher, pastor and scoutmaster. USA TODAY, "Priest accused in 124 Guam sex abuse cases ages quietly, alone," 5 May 2018 But Lambert Nieme and the six other men who will be ordained have been passed all of those tests. Thomas Farragher, BostonGlobe.com, "As a child, he tended sheep in the Congo. Now, he’ll tend souls in Boston," 1 May 2018 The reason is much tighter regulation, ordained from the top of the political system by the economic officials around President Xi Jinping—notably Liu He, a vice-premier. The Economist, "China’s tighter regulation of shadow banks begins to bite," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ordain.' 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 ordain

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

History and Etymology for ordain

Middle English ordeinen, from Anglo-French ordener, ordeiner, from Late Latin ordinare, from Latin, to put in order, appoint, from ordin-, ordo order

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Dictionary Entries near ordain






ordeal bark

ordeal bean

Statistics for ordain

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for ordain

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

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More Definitions for ordain



English Language Learners Definition of ordain

: to officially make (someone) a minister, priest, rabbi, etc.

: to officially establish or order (something)


or·​dain | \ȯr-ˈdān \
ordained; ordaining

Kids Definition of ordain

1 : decree entry 2 It was ordained by law.

2 : to make a person a Christian minister or priest by a special ceremony

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More from Merriam-Webster on ordain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ordain

Spanish Central: Translation of ordain

Nglish: Translation of ordain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ordain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ordain

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


a private place of worship

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