\ˈprā \
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The route is lined with people going about their lives, chatting, praying, or hawking their wares. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Those painted sculptures in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey are true to history," 23 Oct. 2018 Ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs have told The Associated Press that ostensibly innocuous acts such as praying regularly, viewing a foreign website or taking phone calls from relatives abroad could land one in a camp. Yanan Wang, The Seattle Times, "China says interning Muslims brings them into ‘modern’ world," 16 Oct. 2018 At Lake Montebello, mothers who lost children to violence and other family members pray in a circle before releasing balloons. Brittany Britto,, "Residents gather to remember children lost to violence with community walk, balloon release," 14 July 2018 On Friday morning, delegates prayed together outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center in Broadview. Vikki Ortiz,, "'Chicago is the lighthouse': Local Catholic leaders take the lead in supporting immigrants," 13 July 2018 And pray that Brad is a good enough sport to delete the incriminating photos and video. Abigail Van Buren, Houston Chronicle, "Wife of perfect husband cheats without remorse," 10 July 2018 That title will be replaced by another game more significant in a few days’ time, and, England prays, yet another next weekend. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "England dominates Sweden to reach World Cup semifinals," 7 July 2018 At their school, in the district of Mae Sai bordering Myanmar, classmates pray to see them again. Time, "Grandfather of Trapped Thai Boy Says He’ll ‘Never Let Them Near a Cave Again’," 5 July 2018 Gathered outside Northwest High School, Coatie, a board member of the Ten Point Coalition, prayed over the death of Ronnie Campbell, who was gunned down at a nearby gas station June 18. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "'This is devastating to our family': Shooting victim's family prays for end to gun violence," 29 June 2018

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.

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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

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Learn More about pray

Dictionary Entries near pray







prayer bead

Statistics for pray

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pray

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

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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

: to seriously ask (someone) to do something


\ˈprā \
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

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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

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