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

Her words offer a pragmatic kind of hope, moving in its simple premise that the oppression of the status quo automatically ordains the few who are willing to challenge it with purpose. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Knock Down the House Reminds Us that AOC's Triumph Almost Wasn't," 3 May 2019 The earliest dates are for Cornelius Van Merrianboer, a priest who was born in 1898, ordained in 1924, resigned in 1933 and died in 1960. Janet Mcconnaughey, The Seattle Times, "Accused priest list from diocese where abuse 1st made public," 12 Apr. 2019 While Moore served at All Souls, and was initially ordained in the 1970s as a Baptist, she first was assigned a church by the United Church of Christ in the 1980s. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, "Prominent progressive D.C. church, accused of racism, tries to move on," 10 July 2018 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

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

17 May 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

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to take the place or position of

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