\ 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 pleapray 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 Also, couldn’t hurt to pray for high winds and abnormal cold. Sam Farmerstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "AFC championship game prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans," 19 Jan. 2020 At the White House at that precise moment, President Trump was scheduled to be hosting an event promoting the administration’s attempt to empower religious students to exercise their rights to pray at school. New York Times, "Angry Trump Says Focus Should Be on a Trade Deal, Not a ‘Hoax’," 16 Jan. 2020 The directive says students are allowed to pray alone or in groups during lunch and other free time. Washington Post, "Trump boosts school prayer, faith groups as he rallies base," 16 Jan. 2020 Apaches still climb its slopes to pray, conduct ceremonies and gather medicinal plants. Debra Utacia Krol, azcentral, "Apache activist Wendsler Nosie followed a lifelong path to Resolution copper mine protest," 15 Jan. 2020 Aiken never turned down an opportunity to pray for his community or to spend time with people younger than himself. Shady Grove Oliver, Anchorage Daily News, "North Slope elder Aiken remembered for kindness and leadership," 15 Jan. 2020 Then again, cephalopod brains aren’t exactly organized like ours (or like praying mantises’, for that matter), says study author Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido, also of the University of Minnesota, in a statement. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Velcroed 3-D Glasses to Cuttlefish to Study Their Depth Perception," 8 Jan. 2020 The congregation held a private worship service inside the sanctuary to pray for their fallen church members Monday night. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "As families prepare to bury those slain in a Texas church shooting, the minister asks for continued prayers," 31 Dec. 2019 Since the 800s, faithful have made pilgrimages to pray in Santiago, Spain, where the remains of St. James are said to lie. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A heart attack couldn't stop him. Not back surgery. So what's next for this 79-year-old NASCAR-loving, marathon-competing priest?," 26 Dec. 2019

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

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pray.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for pray


How to pronounce pray (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pray

Spanish Central: Translation of pray

Nglish: Translation of pray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pray for Arabic Speakers

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).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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