noun (1), often attributive
\ ˈprer How to pronounce prayer (audio) \

Definition of prayer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought said a prayer for the success of the voyage
(2) : a set order of words used in praying
b : an earnest request or wish
2 : the act or practice of praying to God or a god kneeling in prayer
3 : a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers often used in plural
4 : something prayed for
5 : a slight chance haven't got a prayer


noun (2)
pray·​er | \ ˈprā-ər How to pronounce prayer (audio) , ˈprer \

Definition of prayer (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that prays : supplicant

First Known Use of prayer

Noun (1)

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

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prayer

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French priere, praiere, preiere, from Medieval Latin precaria, from Latin, feminine of precarius obtained by entreaty, from prec-, prex

Noun (2)

Middle English prayere, from prayen to pray + -er entry 2

Learn More About prayer

Time Traveler for prayer

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near prayer



prayer bead

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Cite this Entry

“Prayer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prayer


\ ˈprer How to pronounce prayer (audio) \

Kids Definition of prayer

1 : words spoken to God a prayer for peace
2 : the act of praying to God We knelt in prayer.
3 : a strong hope or wish It's our prayer that you will return safely.
4 : a set form of words used in praying
5 : a religious service that is mostly prayers evening prayer


\ ˈprer How to pronounce prayer (audio) \

Legal Definition of prayer

: the part of a pleading (as a complaint) that specifies the relief sought also : a request for relief or some other action by the court


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