verb (used with object)

to invest with ministerial or sacerdotal functions; confer holy orders upon.
to enact or establish by law, edict, etc.: to ordain a new type of government.
to decree; give orders for: He ordained that the restrictions were to be lifted.
(of God, fate, etc.) to destine or predestine: Fate had ordained the meeting.

verb (used without object)

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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ordained

Contemporary Examples of ordained

Historical Examples of ordained

  • For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

  • But fate had ordained that good King James should not finish his dinner in peace.

    Biographical Stories

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Why should not miracles come now, as in the olden days, for had not all this been ordained from the beginning?

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • Hear: I, by authority of God, ordained that the man should rule over thee.

    Slavery Ordained of God

    Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.

  • They ordained that nobility should only be transmitted by the women.

    The History of Louisiana

    Le Page Du Pratz

British Dictionary definitions for ordained


verb (tr)

to consecrate (someone) as a priest; confer holy orders upon
(may take a clause as object) to decree, appoint, or predestine irrevocably
(may take a clause as object) to order, establish, or enact with authority
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 ordained



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