ray

1 of 3

noun (1)

: any of an order (Rajiformes) of usually marine cartilaginous fishes (such as stingrays and skates) having the body flattened dorsoventrally, the eyes on the upper surface, and enlarged pectoral fins fused with the head

ray

2 of 3

noun (2)

1
a
: any of the lines of light that appear to radiate from a bright object
b
: a beam of radiant energy (such as light) of small cross section
c(1)
: a stream of material particles traveling in the same line (as in radioactive phenomena)
(2)
: a single particle of such a stream
2
a
: light cast by rays : radiance
b
: a moral or intellectual light
3
: a thin line suggesting a ray: such as
a
: any of a group of lines diverging from a common center
b
4
a
: one of the bony rods that extend and support the membrane in the fin of a fish
b
: one of the radiating divisions of the body of a radiate animal (such as a starfish)
5
a
: a branch or flower stalk of an umbel
6
: particle, trace
a ray of hope
rayed adjective

ray

3 of 3

verb

rayed; raying; rays

intransitive verb

1
a
: to shine in or as if in rays
b
: to issue as rays
2
: to extend like the radii of a circle : radiate

transitive verb

1
: to emit in rays
2
: to furnish or mark with rays

Examples of ray in a Sentence

Noun (2) two red eyes reflected in the ray of light from the flashlight the tapping sound ceased, extinguishing the last ray of hope that the trapped miners were still alive Verb klieg lights were raying against the nighttime sky at the Hollywood premiere laugh wrinkles rayed out from the corners of the old man's eyes
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Some of them do a better job at protecting from UVA rays that cause cancer and wrinkles than the ones in the U.S. Suzanne Nuyen, NPR, 20 May 2024 Guests can snorkel the artificial Grand Reef teeming with fish and graceful rays, spend hours floating the lazy river that winds under waterfalls, and hand-feed birds in the aviary. Angela Caraway-Carlton, Miami Herald, 15 May 2024 To be more specific, exposure to UVA rays (those longer wavelengths) damages hair pigment, while UVB exposure (shorter wavelengths) damages hair proteins, specifically keratin. Amy Eisinger, Allure, 8 May 2024 The good news is that there are windows now that can block the UVA rays. Lindzi Scharf, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 Coola Organic Face Sunscreen, $27 (Save 15%) Made of at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients, the Coola sunscreen provides broad spectrum SPF 50 protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Brittany Vanderbill, Peoplemag, 6 May 2024 Those only recently stranded from the sea still have their rich, cobalt-blue color, a pigment that provides both camouflage and protection from the sun’s UV rays during their life on the open ocean. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2024 Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory had to euthanize the shark-looking ray on Thursday because its health condition continued to deteriorate, it was announced Friday. David Goodhue, Miami Herald, 3 May 2024 Unfortunately, the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can not only cause sunburn but also lead to premature signs of skin aging—namely, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation—and even skin cancer. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, 3 May 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ray.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English raye, from Anglo-French raie, from Latin raia

Noun (2)

Middle English, from Anglo-French rai, from Latin radius rod, ray

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1598, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of ray was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near ray

Cite this Entry

“Ray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ray. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

ray

1 of 2 noun
: any of numerous flat broad fishes (as stingrays and skates) usually living on the sea bottom and having eyes on the upper surface of their bodies, a long narrow tail, and a skeleton made of cartilage

ray

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: one of the lines of light that appear to be given off by a bright object
b
: a thin beam of radiant energy (as light)
c
: a stream of particles (as electrons) traveling in the same line
2
a
: any of a group of lines coming from a common center
b
3
: a plant or animal structure that resembles a ray: as
b
: one of the bony rods in the fin of a fish
4
: a tiny bit
a ray of hope
Etymology

Noun

Middle English raye "the ray (fish)," from early French raie (same meaning), from Latin raia (same meaning)

Noun

Middle English ray "a beam of light," from early French rai (same meaning), from Latin radius "ray, beam, spoke" — related to radiate, radio, radius

Medical Definition

ray

1 of 2 noun
: any of numerous elasmobranch fishes (order Hypotremata) having the body flattened dorsoventrally, the eyes on the upper surface, and a much-reduced caudal region having typically a slender process often with venomous spines

ray

2 of 2 noun
1
: one of the lines of light that appear to radiate from a bright object
2
: a beam of radiant energy (as light) of small cross section
3
a
: a stream of material particles traveling in the same line (as in radioactive phenomena)
b
: a single particle of such a stream
rayed adjective

Biographical Definition

Ray 1 of 3

biographical name (1)

John 1627–1705 English naturalist

Ray

2 of 3

biographical name (2)

Nicholas 1911–1979 born Raymond Nicholas Kienzle American film director

Ray

3 of 3

biographical name (3)

Satyajit 1921–1992 Indian film director, writer, and producer

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