[ prair ]
See synonyms for prayer on
  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.

  1. the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship.

  2. a formula or sequence of words used in or appointed for praying: the Lord's Prayer.

  3. prayers, a religious observance, either public or private, consisting wholly or mainly of prayer.

  4. that which is prayed for.

  5. the section of a bill in equity, or of a petition, that sets forth the complaint or the action desired.

  6. a negligible hope or chance: Do you think he has a prayer of getting that job?

Origin of prayer

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English preier(e), preire, from Old French priiere, preiere, from Medieval Latin precāria, noun use of feminine of precārius “given as a favor, obtained by entreaty,” equivalent to prec- (stem of prex ) “prayer, supplication” + -ārius -ary; cf. precarious

Other words from prayer

  • prayerless, adjective
  • prayer·less·ly, adverb
  • prayer·less·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with prayer

Other definitions for prayer (2 of 2)

[ prey-er ]

  1. a person who prays.

Origin of prayer

First recorded in 1350–1400; late Middle English preier(e), preyare; see origin at pray;see also -er1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use prayer in a sentence

  • But Canon Drivel's daughter did not deign to answer, she merely rang for prayers.

  • Mrs. Dodd opened the book—her father, the Canon's, well-known book of Family Prayers.

  • As he ran he tried to say his prayers, but all he could remember was, "Our Father who art in heaven."

    A Lost Hero | Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and Herbert D. Ward
  • He found himself trying to frame the words, but they broke into incoherent prayers, still to the same grotesque tune.

    Uncanny Tales | Various
  • I tell you this to the end that, thinking less well of me, you may spare me prayers which I should dread to see fulfilled.

    St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for prayer (1 of 2)


/ (prɛə) /

    • a personal communication or petition addressed to a deity, esp in the form of supplication, adoration, praise, contrition, or thanksgiving

    • 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

  1. the practice of praying: prayer is our solution to human problems

  2. (often plural) a form of devotion, either public or private, spent mainly or wholly praying: morning prayers

  3. (capital when part of a recognized name) a form of words used in praying: the Lord's Prayer

  4. an object or benefit prayed for

  5. an earnest request, petition, or entreaty

  6. law a request contained in a petition to a court for the relief sought by the petitioner

  7. slang a chance or hope: she doesn't have a prayer of getting married

Origin of prayer

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

Derived forms of prayer

  • prayerless, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for prayer (2 of 2)


/ (ˈpreɪə) /

  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