Definition of banns in English:


plural noun

  • A notice read out on three successive Sundays in a parish church, announcing an intended marriage and giving the opportunity for objections.

    • ‘I have been listening for half a century to clergymen intoning ‘I publish the banns of marriage…’ and can attest that fifty years ago the partners generally came from within a two-mile radius.’
    • ‘Christ Church in Skipton read out the banns of marriage and no less than 12 couples were contemplating getting wed.’
    • ‘He then proceeded to Doctor's Commons, to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a special license so that they would not have to wait upon banns and could be married right away.’
    • ‘These banns could easily involve parishes outside the diocese.’
    • ‘The requirement to be married in one of the resident parish churches and the calling of banns are being dropped.’
    • ‘Without banns or a wedding ceremony, he took her for his wife merely by declaring the deed a fait accompli.’
    • ‘A special licence by the Archbishop of Canterbury allowed the couple to bypass the traditional reading of the banns and the marriage took place at St Lawrence's Church, Longridge, a week later.’
    • ‘Reverend Brent Hawkes used a loophole in Ontario law which states that ‘any two persons’ can be married through publishing of banns.’
    • ‘It gave anyone the right to object either in advance at the publishing of banns on three successive Sundays, or during the ceremony itself.’
    • ‘Mrs Edwards lived in Edgworth at the time and she told the court she and her fiance had been to church to hear the banns read.’
    • ‘I had a feeling things would take off this week; we'd known that if she was to get married, the banns would have to be displayed around now.’
    • ‘This notice or banns must be read thrice in the church at intervals of at least one week.’
    • ‘Notice of intention to marry had to be given by each party in their home parish (usually by publication of banns in the church), and the ceremony had to be performed in public.’
    • ‘The priest was thereby forced to stop the banns from being announced for Domingo's approaching marriage.’
    • ‘The banns were posted two weeks before the press even noticed.’
    • ‘A Church of England spokesman said: ‘The words bachelor or spinster have never been part of the wording of banns, but many clergy customarily use them and will no doubt continue to.’’
    • ‘Mother asked Charles if he wanted to announce the banns through our local Church.’
    • ‘Today's the last Sunday for Angela's wedding banns.’
    • ‘The licence gave permission to marry after one asking of the banns, which were forbidden from Advent Sunday to 13 January.’
    • ‘Print up invitations to a marriage, publish banns at a friendly church, have one or more brides or grooms and even eat wedding cake.’


  • forbid the banns

    • archaic Raise an objection to an intended marriage.

      • ‘I will not forbid the banns, for they are not very near of kin, but I wish they were further apart every day.’
      • ‘Still, whichever methods you decide to employ, I sincerely hope that they go on to forbid the banns in no uncertain manner.’
      • ‘You look as if you would forbid the banns, Mr. Smirk.’
      • ‘Her parents object to the social position of her fiancé; in point of fact, they forbid the banns.’
      • ‘The match was a desirable one, but Queen Elizabeth forbade the banns.’


Middle English: plural of ban.