\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 high cost has left smaller farmers praying for rain. Rob Taylor, WSJ, "Drought Tests Australia’s Model Water Market," 8 Nov. 2018 Inside Temple De Hirsch Sinai, local Jewish leaders sang, prayed for the dead and lit candles in their honor before the large gathering Monday. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "‘We will arise’: Thousands gather in Seattle for vigil mourning Pittsburgh synagogue massacre," 31 Oct. 2018 There was a common practice at my school that involved praying for our future husbands. Liana Schaffner, Teen Vogue, "The Boys at Brett Kavanaugh's School Called the Girls at Mine the "Whores on the Hill" and I Believed Them," 27 Sep. 2018 Vanessa Stanley, the Hubbards’ neighbor, told Channel 2 Action News that most of the neighborhood came out Tuesday to pay their respects and pray for a resolution in the case. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "Neighbors honor couple found strangled in burned Atlanta home," 12 July 2018 More than a week after the accident, Arrington shared a photo of herself in the hospital along with a message of thanks to those who have prayed for her recovery. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Who is Katie Arrington? 3 things to know about the South Carolina congressional candidate," 6 July 2018 Up a hill from there is the cozy white mosque where Ali prayed five times daily. Frank Fitzpatrick,, "Muhammad Ali's secluded Pa. camp and the fight to save it, led by John Madden's son," 3 July 2018 Please join me in praying for the injured and their families. Ruth Brown, Nicole Blanchard And Jason Lantz, idahostatesman, "Stabbing suspect attacked victims during a 3-year-old's birthday party to 'exact vengeance'," 1 July 2018 Turn the other cheek, love one’s enemies and pray for those who persecute you, even unto death. Marilyn Yalom, WSJ, "‘Evolution of Desire’ Review: Who Was René Girard?," 1 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

14 Nov 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).


by force of circumstances

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