\ 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

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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 Their lawyers described the conditions as mind-numbing until recent years, when the commanders permitted the prisoners to eat and pray together under strict surveillance. New York Times, "Military Closes Failing Facility at Guantánamo Bay to Consolidate Prisoners," 4 Apr. 2021 Tebow comes to their condo to eat, play games and pray with them. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, "Chase and Sadie's incredible journey of love amid cancer," 4 Apr. 2021 On the night of Christ’s agony in the garden, His disciples, who were told to watch and pray, fall asleep. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Good Friday for Backsliders," 2 Apr. 2021 Veg-heads, Hindus, College Park students and lovers of South Indian cooking would all gather at the restaurant, perhaps after temple or as part of larger day trips to eat, pray, love and shop (though probably not in that order). Washington Post, "Woodlands Indian restaurant is without a home, but its vegetarian menu remains close to my heart," 29 Mar. 2021 The faithful can again pray the steps at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church in Mount Adams, on Good Friday, says the parish in an announcement this week. Chris Mayhew, The Enquirer, "Holy Cross-Immaculata Church: Praying the steps on Good Friday is back for 2021," 26 Mar. 2021 They were given an opportunity to speak with the inmate, pray, give last rites, read scripture or recite a declaration of faith. Dakin Andone, CNN, "'This horror has to stop.' Spiritual advisers to death row inmates decry recent wave of federal executions," 10 Mar. 2021 In the hourlong worship service, students, faculty, staff and community members from different religions listen, chant, sing and pray together for peace. Erin Bishop Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Commentary: Why all faiths are welcome at a Catholic university," 7 Mar. 2021 Did evangelicals really pray over the statue at CPAC? Rick Rouan, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Altered photo shows religious leaders praying over golden Trump statue," 4 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for pray

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pray

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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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
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on pray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pray

Nglish: Translation of pray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pray for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pray

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