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  1. a devout petition to God or an object of worship.
  2. a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.
  3. the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship.
  4. a formula or sequence of words used in or appointed for praying: the Lord's Prayer.
  5. prayers, a religious observance, either public or private, consisting wholly or mainly of prayer.
  6. that which is prayed for.
  7. a petition; entreaty.
  8. the section of a bill in equity, or of a petition, that sets forth the complaint or the action desired.
  9. a negligible hope or chance: Do you think he has a prayer of getting that job?

Origin of prayer

1250–1300; Middle English preiere < Old French < Medieval Latin precāria, noun use of feminine of precārius obtained by entreaty, equivalent to prec- (stem of prex) prayer + -ārius -ary; cf. precarious
Related formsprayer·less, adjectiveprayer·less·ly, adverbprayer·less·ness, noun
Can be confusedpray prayer prey


  1. a person who prays.

Origin of prayer

First recorded in 1400–50, prayer is from the late Middle English word preyare. See pray, -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prayer

Contemporary Examples of prayer

Historical Examples of prayer

British Dictionary definitions for prayer


    1. a personal communication or petition addressed to a deity, esp in the form of supplication, adoration, praise, contrition, or thanksgiving
    2. any other form of spiritual communion with a deity
  1. a similar personal communication that does not involve adoration, addressed to beings venerated as being closely associated with a deity, such as angels or saints
  2. the practice of prayingprayer is our solution to human problems
  3. (often plural) a form of devotion, either public or private, spent mainly or wholly prayingmorning prayers
  4. (capital when part of a recognized name) a form of words used in prayingthe Lord's Prayer
  5. an object or benefit prayed for
  6. an earnest request, petition, or entreaty
  7. law a request contained in a petition to a court for the relief sought by the petitioner
  8. slang a chance or hopeshe doesn't have a prayer of getting married
Derived Formsprayerless, adjective

Word Origin for prayer

C13 preiere, from Old French, from Medieval Latin precāria, from Latin precārius obtained by begging, from prex prayer


  1. a person who prays
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 prayer

c.1300, from Old French prier "prayer, petition, request" (12c., Modern French prière), from Medieval Latin precaria "petition, prayer," noun use of Latin adjective precaria, fem. of precarius "obtained by prayer, given as a favor," from precari "to ask, beg, pray" (see pray). Related: Prayers.

Prayer-book attested from 1590s; prayer-meeting from 1780. To not have a prayer "have no chance" is from 1941.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper