or·​di·​nance | \ ˈȯrd-nən(t)s How to pronounce ordinance (audio) , ˈȯr-də-nən(t)s \

Definition of ordinance

1a : an authoritative decree or direction : order On that day the king signed three ordinances.
b : a law set forth by a governmental authority specifically : a municipal regulation A city ordinance forbids construction work to start before 8 a.m.
2 : something ordained or decreed by fate or a deity Let ordinance come as the gods foresay [=foretell] it.— William Shakespeare
3 : a prescribed usage, practice, or ceremony observes the ordinance of abstinence during Lent

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for ordinance

law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure. law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority. obey the law rule applies to more restricted or specific situations. the rules of the game regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system. regulations affecting nuclear power plants precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching. the precepts of effective writing statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body. a statute requiring the use of seat belts ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality. a city ordinance canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide. the canons of good taste

Examples of ordinance in a Sentence

The town has passed a zoning ordinance limiting construction. a local ordinance forbids all street parking during snowstorms
Recent Examples on the Web The three council members are also pushing an ordinance that would protect renters from unjust evictions. Faiza Mahamud, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis voters could decide whether to impose rent controls on landlords," 23 Feb. 2021 Three youths were cited under village ordinance for disorderly conduct, according to police Chief Joe Mitchell. Mike Nolan, chicagotribune.com, "Sky Zone threatens lawsuit if Orland Park’s decision to pull business license stands," 23 Feb. 2021 City leaders are considering an ordinance that would force larger grocery and drug stores to temporarily pay workers an extra $5 an hour for 120 days. Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. city report on grocery ‘hero pay’ warns of potential layoffs, price increases," 23 Feb. 2021 Both the charter amendment and ordinance were introduced at a Feb. 1 meeting of the five-member board of town commissioners. James Whitlow, baltimoresun.com, "Bel Air mulls increasing tax credits for its volunteer firefighters; public hearing scheduled for March 1," 22 Feb. 2021 The City Council will consider adopting an ordinance restricting where protests can be held at its meeting on Feb. 23. San Diego Union-Tribune, "El Cajon may ban ‘targeted’ demonstrations at people’s houses," 18 Feb. 2021 The Town Council adopted an ordinance creating the board at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9. courant.com, "Community News For The West Hartford Edition," 18 Feb. 2021 In January the City Council of Long Beach, Calif., adopted an ordinance requiring large grocery-store chains to pay employees an extra $4 an hour. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "The Human Cost of a Minimum Wage," 15 Feb. 2021 The hero pay ordinance has also prompted a lawsuit from the California Grocers Association. CBS News, ""Hero pay" dispute in California leaves some grocery workers feeling "scared"," 8 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ordinance.' 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 ordinance

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

History and Etymology for ordinance

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French ordenance order, disposition, from Medieval Latin ordinantia, from Latin ordinant-, ordinans, present participle of ordinare to put in order — more at ordain

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ordinance

Time Traveler for ordinance

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for ordinance

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ordinance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordinance. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ordinance



English Language Learners Definition of ordinance

US : a law or regulation made by a city or town government


or·​di·​nance | \ ˈȯr-də-nəns How to pronounce ordinance (audio) \

Kids Definition of ordinance

: a law or regulation especially of a city or town


or·​di·​nance | \ ˈȯrd-ᵊn-əns How to pronounce ordinance (audio) \

Legal Definition of ordinance

: an authoritative decree or law especially : a municipal regulation a zoning ordinance

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ordinance

What made you want to look up ordinance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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