or·​dain ȯr-ˈdān How to pronounce ordain (audio)
ordained; ordaining; ordains

transitive verb

: 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
: to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law : enact
we the people … do ordain and establish this ConstitutionU.S. Constitution
: destine, foreordain
It is futile to try to avoid what destiny has ordained.

intransitive verb

: to issue an order
so the gods have ordained
ordainer noun
ordainment noun

Examples of ordain in a Sentence

She is an ordained minister. The process was ordained by law.
Recent Examples on the Web There are disagreements between men who have been ordained with some degree of authority, even at the highest levels of the church. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Aug. 2023 On February 23rd, 2018 I was ordained into the Church of the Latter-Day Dude, a fairly straightforward process through the Church’s official website. Rory Feehan, SPIN, 9 Nov. 2023 The two were married Aug. 18 by Nan Cameron, a friend of Mr. Cassata previously ordained by the Universal Life Church, at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, Calif., before 150 guests. Jenny Block, New York Times, 1 Sep. 2023 But in an interview published this year by two journalists, Francis, going deeper, appeared to find little rationale for ordaining women, or giving in to calls for married priests. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2023 Attendees have a broad mandate to discuss the future of the church, including ordaining women as deacons and outreach to L.G.B.T.Q. people. Ruth Graham Jamie Kelter Davis, New York Times, 24 Oct. 2023 Sutton said Hudson had served in a succession of roles in Western Maryland parishes since being ordained an Episcopal priest in 2006. Jonathan M. Pitts, Baltimore Sun, 29 Aug. 2023 Any man could do it, ordained or not, as long as the baptism was full immersion. Jamie Quatro, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023 In the year 391, a brilliant 36-year-old professor who was on track to become a senator of the Roman Empire was instead ordained a Catholic priest in a provincial city. Bronwen McShea, WSJ, 6 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ordain.' 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 ordeinen, from Anglo-French ordener, ordeiner, from Late Latin ordinare, from Latin, to put in order, appoint, from ordin-, ordo order

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near ordain

Cite this Entry

“Ordain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordain. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


or·​dain ȯr-ˈdān How to pronounce ordain (audio)
: to make a person a Christian minister or priest by a special ceremony
: decree entry 2
it was ordained by law
: destine sense 1
we seem ordained to fail

More from Merriam-Webster on ordain

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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