\ 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 Black Americans attend church more regularly than Americans overall, and pray more often. David Crary, Star Tribune, "In-depth survey assesses religious life of Black Americans," 16 Feb. 2021 Students no longer cross the threshold to pray, worship or get married., "Support quality local journalism like this by becoming a subscriber.," 12 Feb. 2021 In the past, Alabama routinely brought in a Christian prison chaplain who would pray with an inmate if requested. Fox News, "Alabama execution canceled after inmate’s fight for pastor in chamber," 12 Feb. 2021 The hospital had already been working on a pilot project to allow for virtual NICU visits, a HIPAA-compliant two-way video feed for parents to sing, pray, or read to their children, or even engage with the medical team on its daily rounds. Eva Holland, Wired, "Premature Babies and the Lonely Terror of a Pandemic NICU," 11 Feb. 2021 Instead, Abdul-Rauf on Thursday agreed to stand and pray during the anthem. Dallas News, "Flashback: Why leagues should just play ball, and not national anthem, at sporting events," 10 Feb. 2021 The group stopped in Mesa for the evening and resumed the run Tuesday morning, reaching the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix at about 2 p.m. After stopping to pray, the Nosies rested for the following day’s court appearance. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Emotional court hearing follows vigil by Oak Flat supporters who oppose copper mine," 5 Feb. 2021 When attendees gathered in a circle to speak and pray, one spot was occupied by a poster board on an easel that had images and information for eight missing people. Author: Sam Ferrara, Anchorage Daily News, "Fairbanks community members gather for vigil to raise awareness of missing person, ask for help, pray for answers," 27 Jan. 2021 That means the 49ers simply can’t bring back free-agent backups Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard in 2021 and fervently pray Garoppolo doesn’t suffer a season-altering injury for the third time in four years. Eric Branch,, "Advice for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch: A blueprint for 49ers’ offseason," 16 Jan. 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

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 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

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