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

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Other Words from ordain

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

Examples of ordain in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

The archdiocese first knew about the allegations in 2005, the year after Bishop Salazar was ordained as a bishop. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "U.S. Bishop Resigns Over Old Sex-Abuse Allegations," 19 Dec. 2018 In 1996, 30 years after he was first ordained as a priest, Pell was made archbishop of Melbourne by Pope John Paul II. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Cardinal George Pell to face two trials on historical abuse charges," 1 May 2018 He is scheduled to be tried by jury in May. Reese became the first married priest in Indianapolis after he was ordained in 2016, FOX 59 reports. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "‘A priest and you beat her?’ Vicar hit wife at church, told her to ‘confess’ cheating, Indiana police say | Miami Herald," 27 Feb. 2018 Francis has long expressed his admiration for Japanese culture and history, and famously had hoped to become a missionary in Japan after he was ordained a priest. Nicole Winfield, Fox News, "Pope says he hopes to visit Japan next year, fulfilling wish," 12 Sep. 2018 John Battle, a longtime North Mount Street barber and ordained minister who was active in several churches, died in his sleep May 27 at his Sandtown-Winchester home. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, "John Battle, veteran Sandtown-Winchester barber and minister, dies," 5 June 2018 Despite the public push for a Barrett nomination, her selection is not pre-ordained. Rachel Van Dongen, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump's trade war is getting very real," 3 July 2018 So much so that the band has become as close as family: founding member Mike Love even got ordained and officiated Stamos and McHugh’s wedding ceremony. Scott Huver, PEOPLE.com, "John Stamos — Host of PBS’s Annual Broadcast of A Capitol Fourth —Calls Fatherhood 'a Dream'," 31 May 2018 Conroy entered the Society of Jesus in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 1983. Jim Ryan, OregonLive.com, "27-year-old man drowns near Amity, authorities say," 3 May 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

5 Apr 2019

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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.
formal : to officially establish or order (something)


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

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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).


an act or instance of returning to life

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