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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ordain

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

Examples of ordain in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

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 But some male pastors and preachers wield so much power in their churches that they rarely are confronted, said Reynolds, of Washington, D.C., who was ordained in 1996. Corey Williams, Fox News, "For black women at church, it's more than the Aretha eulogy," 9 Sep. 2018 Bishop Jenik, born in Manhattan, was ordained a priest in 1970. WSJ, "Official at Archdiocese of New York Accused of Sex Abuse," 31 Oct. 2018 Sometime after her first husband came out of the closet, she got ordained as a minister to marry LGBTQ couples. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Fran Drescher Was Always Ahead of Her Time," 30 Aug. 2018 O'Brien was ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, in 1961 and served as an associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Douglas. Fox News, "Retired Phoenix Bishop Thomas O'Brien dies at 82," 27 Aug. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ordain

Dictionary Entries near ordain






ordeal bark

ordeal bean

Statistics for ordain

Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ordain

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


involving abstract or general statements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!