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verb (used with object)
  1. to invest with ministerial or sacerdotal functions; confer holy orders upon.
  2. to enact or establish by law, edict, etc.: to ordain a new type of government.
  3. to decree; give orders for: He ordained that the restrictions were to be lifted.
  4. (of God, fate, etc.) to destine or predestine: Fate had ordained the meeting.
verb (used without object)
  1. to order or command: Thus do the gods ordain.
  2. to select for or appoint to an office.
  3. to invest someone with sacerdotal functions.

Origin of ordain

1250–1300; Middle English ordeinen < Old French ordener < Latin ordināre to order, arrange, appoint. See ordination
Related formsor·dain·a·ble, adjectiveor·dain·er, nounor·dain·ment, nounre·or·dain, verb (used with object)self-or·dained, adjectiveself-or·dain·er, nounsu·per·or·dain, verb (used without object)un·or·dain·a·ble, adjectiveun·or·dained, adjective

Synonyms for ordain

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ordain


verb (tr)
  1. to consecrate (someone) as a priest; confer holy orders upon
  2. (may take a clause as object) to decree, appoint, or predestine irrevocably
  3. (may take a clause as object) to order, establish, or enact with authority
  4. obsolete to select for an office
Derived Formsordainer, nounordainment, noun

Word Origin for ordain

C13: from Anglo-Norman ordeiner, from Late Latin ordināre, from Latin ordo order
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

Word Origin and History for ordain

late 13c., "to appoint or admit to the ministry of the Church," from stem of Old French ordener "place in order, arrange, prepare; consecrate, designate" (Modern French ordonner) and directly from Latin ordinare "put in order, arrange, dispose, appoint," from ordo (genitive ordinis) "order" (see order (n.)). The notion is "to confer holy orders upon." Meaning "to decree, enact" is from c.1300; sense of "to set (something) that will continue in a certain order" is from early 14c. Related: Ordained; ordaining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper