or·​dain | \ ȯr-ˈdān How to pronounce ordain (audio) \
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

Other Words from ordain

ordainer noun
ordainment \ ȯr-​ˈdān-​mənt How to pronounce ordain (audio) \ noun

Examples of ordain in a Sentence

She is an ordained minister. The process was ordained by law.
Recent Examples on the Web Some 35 years later, Kate Kelly, a Washington, D.C., activist also was excommunicated — at the same Virginia meetinghouse as Johnson — for her advocacy in pushing to ordain women to the faith’s all-male priesthood. The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Apr. 2022 The church did not routinely ordain Black men into the priesthood until 1978. Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2022 The leaders of the Anglican Episcopal Church meet in London to discuss the Episcopal Church USA’s vote to ordain an openly homosexual bishop. CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 Recent Timeline August 5, 2003 - The Episcopal Church USA, at its meeting for its General Convention in Minneapolis, votes to ordain Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as bishop of New Hampshire. CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 Last month, the Vatican released a new penal code that specified automatic excommunication for any attempt to ordain a woman. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, 16 July 2021 Shaloh House is planning to ordain eight additional rabbis this year, one for each stab wound Noginski suffered. BostonGlobe.com, 6 July 2021 Council members, during a June 21 Council finance committee hearing, raised concerns that such a costly upfront investment might pre-ordain the old juvenile facility as the final choice for the diversion center. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland, 28 June 2021 Will the Catholic Church ever ordain women as priests? Fortune, 22 June 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for ordain

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

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Last Updated

15 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ordain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordain. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ordain


or·​dain | \ ȯr-ˈdān How to pronounce ordain (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on ordain

Nglish: Translation of ordain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ordain for Arabic Speakers


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