Definition of Hail Mary in English:

Hail Mary


  • 1A prayer to the Virgin Mary used chiefly by Roman Catholics, beginning with part of Luke 1:28.

    Also called Ave Maria
    • ‘He slowly inhaled and exhaled while praying a Hail Mary for his sisters.’
    • ‘She made a cross on her forehead, said a Hail Mary and an Our Father, asked God to prepare a place for her friend and remove her pain.’
    • ‘We'd pile into the car at the crack of dawn and my father would say a Hail Mary before we left, to make sure that the Virgin Mary kept an eye on us.’
    • ‘I slowly pulled the dirt out of my pocket, recited a Hail Mary and threw the dirt to the wind and over the river.’
    • ‘And he tightened his hold on her hand as they recited the Lord's Prayer and a Hail Mary.’
    1. 1.1A recitation of a Hail Mary prayer.
      ‘muttering Hail Marys under her breath’
      • ‘He had some Hail Marys to say after his last movie.’
      • ‘I said a Hail Mary silently, before continuing, ‘Is there a reason you called?’’
      • ‘However I was taught just to just prick it with a fork a few times and sing a Hail Mary.’
      • ‘She wished she were catholic so she could go to a priest and confess, then say some Hail Marys and be absolved.’
      • ‘Whatever the truth, this distinguished and talented actor has some Hail Marys to say.’
  • 2American Football
    [usually as modifier] A very long, typically unsuccessful pass made in a desperate attempt to score late in the game.

    ‘they beat the 49ers on a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds’
    • ‘It's a bit of a Hail Mary, but when you're down by six points and it's fourth and goal at your own goal line and there's only two seconds on the clock, there is no point in punting.’
    • ‘He is valuable in short-yardage situations and perfectly executed a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown against the other team.’
    • ‘And it didn't come until Sunday, when Springs grabbed a Hail Mary at the end of the half.’
    • ‘They beat the other team on a Hail Mary pass as time expired, marking easily the most exciting play of the day.’
    • ‘They dominated the second overtime period while the other team played defensive hockey, dumping it into the neutral zone in hopes of a Hail Mary breakaway.’
    • ‘They scored a touchdown, then recovered an onside kick, then threw a Hail Mary that was caught in the endzone as time expired.’
    • ‘And this was, and as some people, as I say, call it a Hail Mary pass.’
    • ‘He had only one interception - a meaningless pick on a Hail Mary pass at the end of a half - in the first five games.’
    • ‘They were going to try a Hail Mary pass on the final play before halftime.’
    • ‘One memorable call was when he threw up a Hail Mary three-pointer at the buzzer for his team.’
    1. 2.1Any attempt with a small chance of success.
      ‘a Hail Mary plan’
      • ‘Nobody thought this was a 60-win team, mind you, but certainly a strong enough group to return to the playoffs without a Hail Mary deal.’
      • ‘I can only imagine this was the perp's attempt at a Hail Mary to get key evidence thrown out.’