Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Pray



From Middle English preien, from Anglo-Norman preier, from Old French preier, proier, (French prier), from Late Latin *precāre, from Latin precārī, present active infinitive of precor, from prex, precis (a prayer, a request), from Proto-Indo-European *preḱ- (to ask, woo). Cognate via Indo-European of Old English frignan, fricgan, German fragen, Dutch vragen. Confer deprecate, imprecate, precarious.



pray (third-person singular simple present prays, present participle praying, simple past and past participle prayed)

  1. (religion) To direct words and/or thoughts to God or any higher being, for the sake of adoration, thanks, petition for help, etc.
    Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca.
  2. To humbly beg a person for aid or their time.
  3. (obsolete) To ask earnestly for; to seek to obtain by supplication; to entreat for.
  4. (obsolete) to implore, to entreat, to request.
    • (Can we date this quote by Edmund Spenser and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      They prayd him sit, and gave him for to feed / Such homely what as serves the simple clowne, / That doth despise the dainties of the towne []

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


pray (not comparable)

  1. Please; used to make a polite request.
    pray silence for…
    • 1816, Jane Austen, Emma, Volume 1 Chapter 8
      "Pray, Mr. Knightley," said Emma, who had been smiling to herself through a great part of this speech, "how do you know that Mr. Martin did not speak yesterday?"
    • 1841, Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop, Chapter 10
      Pray don’t ask me why, pray don’t be sorry, pray don’t be vexed with me!
    • 1845, Frederick Marryat, The Mission, Chapter XXI
      Well, Major, pray tell us your adventures, for you have frightened us dreadfully.
    • 1892, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
      Thank you. I am sorry to have interrupted you. Pray continue your most interesting statement.
    • 2013, Martina Hyde, Is the pope Catholic? (in The Guardian, 20 September 2013)[1]
      He is a South American, so perhaps revolutionary spirit courses through Francis's veins. But what, pray, does the Catholic church want with doubt?