[ bap-tiz-uhm ]
See synonyms for: baptismbaptismal on

  1. Ecclesiastical. a ceremonial immersion in water, or application of water, as an initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian church.

  2. any similar ceremony or action of initiation, dedication, etc.

  1. a trying or purifying experience or initiation.

  2. Christian Science. purification of thought and character.

Origin of baptism

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Late Latin baptisma, from Greek bapt(ízein) “to immerse” (see baptize ) + -isma -ism; replacing Middle English bapteme, from Old French, from Late Latin, as above

Other words for baptism

Other words from baptism

  • bap·tis·mal [bap-tiz-muhl], /bæpˈtɪz məl/, adjective
  • bap·tis·mal·ly, adverb
  • post·bap·tis·mal, adjective
  • pseu·do·bap·tis·mal, adjective
  • re·bap·tism, noun

Words Nearby baptism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use baptism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for baptism


/ (ˈbæpˌtɪzəm) /

  1. a Christian religious rite consisting of immersion in or sprinkling with water as a sign that the subject is cleansed from sin and constituted as a member of the Church

  2. the act of baptizing or of undergoing baptism

  1. any similar experience of initiation, regeneration, or dedication

Derived forms of baptism

  • baptismal, adjective
  • baptismally, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for baptism


The ceremony of initiation into Christianity; in most Christian churches, it is considered a sacrament. Persons baptized either have water poured on them or are immersed in water; some groups of Christians (see also Christian) insist on immersion. The effect of baptism, in Christian belief, is to cleanse persons of their sins, so that they are born into a new life with Jesus. Most churches baptize members when they are infants, but some groups, like the Baptists, insist on adult baptism. Jesus himself was baptized. (See John the Baptist.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.