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

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 Chula Vista council members have approved an ordinance that requires the Police Department to publicly report its inventory of military equipment to comply with a state law pushing for greater transparency. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 May 2022 As a follow to a March 21 Village Board discussion, trustees approved an ordinance amending the village liquor code to allow some liquor license holders to begin selling alcohol at 8 a.m. on Sundays. Elizabeth Owens-schiele, Chicago Tribune, 25 Apr. 2022 Combined with the steady stream of licenses being issued by FINMA, this blanket ordinance gives legal certainty to the new class of institutional investors gingerly dipping their toes in the market. Martin Leo Rivers, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 After the Plan Commission meeting, the Town Board unanimously approved an ordinance following the commission's recommendation. Alex Groth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 Mar. 2022 In other business Thursday, Metro Council members unanimously approved an ordinance easing restrictions on where child care providers can operate. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, 17 Mar. 2022 When this ordinance was introduced to council Jan. 12, village Law Director Stephen Byron said it would be integrated with the legislation council passed last June to continue meeting remotely due to the expiration of a state law on July 1. cleveland, 10 Feb. 2022 Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti approved an ordinance in August requiring all city employees to be vaccinated by October. Josh Campbell, CNN, 10 Jan. 2022 Later, in September 2019, the city board with an unanimous voice vote approved an ordinance to extend the program for another year, according to meeting minutes of the city board. Joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Online, 29 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Time Traveler for ordinance

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

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Dictionary Entries Near ordinance

ordinal number



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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ordinance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordinance. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ordinance


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

More from Merriam-Webster on ordinance

Nglish: Translation of ordinance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ordinance for Arabic Speakers


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