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 Thousands of people, including bishops, a Cardinal and priests, gathered at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville Wednesday as Franciscan priest Father Michael Martin was ordained as a bishop. The Pham, Charlotte Observer, 30 May 2024 At least 12 of those priests were either ordained or later became part of the diocese. Kate Linderman, Kansas City Star, 23 May 2024 Since 2014, 60 men have been ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Bebe Hodges, The Enquirer, 19 May 2024 Before he was ordained a deacon in 1988, Kuhl was arrested for soliciting an undercover male police officer, according to a Maryland Attorney General report that documented almost a century of clergy abuse in the Baltimore diocese. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for ordain 

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 14 Jun. 2024.

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

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