\ ˈprā How to pronounce pray (audio) \
prayed; praying; prays

Definition of pray

transitive verb

1 : entreat, implore often used as a function word in introducing a question, request, or plea pray be careful
2 : to get or bring by praying

intransitive verb

1 : to make a request in a humble manner
2 : to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of pray in a Sentence

There's little else to do now but hope and pray. The minister said, “Let us pray.” He prayed that they would have the strength to go on. He prayed that he would find a parking spot.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Platt prayed with Trump onstage, which drew some criticism from his congregation and prompted him to issue a letter of explanation. Greg Garrison,, "Southern Baptist Convention meets next week: What do you want to know?," 7 June 2019 His parents, Charles Sr. and Katherine Gomez, prayed that their son’s body would someday come home. Bob Warren,, "‘Prayers answered.’ Sailor’s remains come home to Slidell after 77 years," 3 June 2019 In her last recorded message from the Virgin Mary on her website on April 13, 2016, Lopez prayed for peace in the United States and Middle East. Meryl Kornfield,, "Woman who said she was visited monthly by the Virgin Mary dies," 12 June 2018 Rain had just begun to fall as bells tolled Saturday evening, signaling the start of Mass at St. Paul Catholic Church in Ellicott City, where parishioners gathered to pray for victims of the previous weekend’s flood. Sarah Meehan, Howard County Times, "Archbishop Lori, Ellicott City parishioners pray for Hermond, other flooding victims at Mass," 2 June 2018 As our staff and the family prepare for Dr. Raman’s celebration of life, please join us in praying for peace and comfort during this difficult time. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "'The Amazing Race' Contestant Dr. Jim Raman Has Passed Away at 42," 15 Mar. 2019 Photo: Getty Images In Lading-Lading, search and rescue workers excavated a mosque that had collapsed on dozens of worshipers who had been praying Sunday night for a villager who was one of around 20 people killed in last week’s quake. Ben Otto, WSJ, "Drinking Water, Fuel in Short Supply in Indonesian Quake Zone," 7 Aug. 2018 Fox News reported on the event's cancellation, and some of the photos the network used that purported to show Eagles players protesting actually were of them praying. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Fox News apologizes after Eagles player calls network's anthem story 'propaganda'," 5 June 2018 When a gunman burst into the mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch where Naeem Rashid was praying, the Pakistani man rushed at him. Saeed Shah, WSJ, "Trapped in Christchurch Mosque, Worshiper Attempted to Disarm Shooter," 16 Mar. 2019

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for pray

Middle English, from Anglo-French prier, praer, preier, from Latin precari, from prec-, prex request, prayer; akin to Old High German frāga question, frāgēn to ask, Sanskrit pṛcchati he asks

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pray

Dictionary Entries near pray







prayer bead

Statistics for pray

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pray

The first known use of pray was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pray



English Language Learners Definition of pray

: to speak to God especially in order to give thanks or to ask for something
: to hope or wish very much for something to happen
old-fashioned : to seriously ask (someone) to do something


\ ˈprā How to pronounce pray (audio) \
prayed; praying

Kids Definition of pray

1 : to speak to God especially to give thanks or ask for something
2 : to hope or wish very much for I prayed no one would forget.
3 : to ask earnestly : beg Do not leave, I pray you.

Legal Definition of pray

: to ask for plaintiff prays judgment against the defendants used especially in pleadings

intransitive verb

: to make a request of a court especially in a complaint or petition complainant prays for declaratory relief

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pray

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pray

Spanish Central: Translation of pray

Nglish: Translation of pray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pray for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pray

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


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
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!