\ 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

Many of the Sakyong’s followers are praying for him. Andy Newman, New York Times, "The ‘King’ of Shambhala Buddhism Is Undone by Abuse Report," 11 July 2018 The incident took place when Gurevitch, 39, was on his way to pray. Hanan Greenwood, Jewish Journal, "Teens in Germany fire anti-Semitic insults at rabbi," 11 July 2018 Casting has yet to be announced, but the world is collectively praying that Alicia Silverstone will resurrect her iconic role as Cher Horowitz. Ruby Buddemeyer, Marie Claire, "'Clueless' Is Officially Becoming a Musical," 14 June 2018 After breaking the fast, those who wished to pray the fourth prayer of the day, called the Maghrib Prayer, knelt behind the imam in the back of the room. Kate Morrissey,, "Interfaith Ramadan celebration calls for togetherness, unity," 1 June 2018 Thankful for the interruption, Parton began to pray. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "WATCH: Dolly Parton Credits Her 52-Year Marriage to Faith," 18 May 2018 The National Day of Prayer - a time when people of all faiths are called to pray for their country - is today. Leada Gore,, "National Day of Prayer 2018: Call for unity highlights events; livestream, how to watch," 3 May 2018 Video by Eric Seals/DFP Detroit Free Press Separated from his 3-year-old son more than two months ago by U.S. immigration agents, the father prayed to God to see him again. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Immigrant dad separated from son in Michigan: 'A pain in my heart'," 14 July 2018 But Rama Bijapurkar, a marketing consultant, argues that these are the wrong deities for ambitious Indian women to pray to. The Economist, "Culture and the labour market keep India’s women at home," 5 July 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

Phrases Related to pray

pray tell

Statistics for pray

Last Updated

19 Sep 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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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).


to make amends

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