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Borrowed from Latin ōrātiō, ōrātiōnem, from ōrō (I orate) + -ātiō (action (nominalizer)). Cognate with and doublet of orison.



oration (plural orations)

  1. A formal, often ceremonial speech.
    a funeral oration; an impassioned oration; to make / deliver / pronounce an oration
    • c. 1596, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2,[1]
      [] there is such confusion in my powers,
      As after some oration fairly spoke
      By a beloved prince, there doth appear
      Among the buzzing pleased multitude;
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Acts 12.21,[2]
      And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
    • 1752, Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No. 207, 10 March, 1752, in Volume 6, London: J. Payne and J. Bouquet, 1752, p. 279,[3]
      The masters of rhetorick direct, that the most forcible arguments be produced in the latter part of an oration, lest they should be effaced or perplexed by supervenient images.
    • 1904, Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, Part 2, Chapter 1,[4]
      [] when the provinces again displayed their old flags (proscribed in Guzman Bento’s time) there was another of those great orations, when Don Jose greeted these old emblems of the war of Independence, brought out again in the name of new Ideals.
  2. (humorous) A lengthy speech or argument in a private setting.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Dublin: John Smith, Book 9, Chapter 4, p. 208,[5]
      My Landlord was likewise beginning his Oration to Jones, but was presently interrupted by that generous Youth, who shook him heartily by the Hand; and assured him of entire Forgiveness []
    • 1854, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ruth, Chapter 16,[6]
      Sally bustled off to set on the kettle for tea, and felt half ashamed, in the quiet of the kitchen, to think of the oration she had made in the parlour.
    • 1936, Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, New York: Macmillan, 1944, Part 1, Chapter 4, p. 63,[7]
      The supper things cleared away, Gerald resumed his oration, but with little satisfaction to himself and none at all to his audience.
  3. (Catholicism) A specific form of short, solemn prayer said by the president of the liturgical celebration on behalf of the people.

Related terms[edit]



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oration (third-person singular simple present orations, present participle orationing, simple past and past participle orationed)

  1. To deliver an oration; to speak.
    • 1633, John Donne (attributed translator), The Auncient History of the Septuagint. Written in Greeke, by Aristeus 1900. yeares since, London, p. 80,[8] cited in Henry Todd, A Dictionary of the English Language, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818, Volume 3,[9]
      They gave answers with great sufficiency touching all difficulties concerning their own law, and had marvellous promptitude both for orationing and giving judgement.
    • 1764, Samuel Foote, The Mayor of Garratt, Act II, in The Dramatic Works of Samuel Foote, Dublin: S. Price et al., 1778, Volume 1, p. 286,[10]
      [] Master Primmer is the man for my money; a man of learning; that can lay down the law: why, adzooks, he is wise enough to puzzle the parson: and then, how you have heard him oration at the Adam and Eve of a Saturday night, about Russia and Prussia []
    • 1876, George Meredith, Beauchamp’s Career, Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, Volume 2, Chapter 10, p. 129,[11]
      What right have you to be lecturing and orationing? You’ve no knowledge.