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.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


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?