Definition of ordinance in US English:



  • 1North American A piece of legislation enacted by a municipal authority.

    ‘a city ordinance banned smoking in nearly all types of restaurants’
    • ‘However, be warned that there are some states that prohibits the use of helmet speakers, thus, be aware first of your municipal laws or ordinances.’
    • ‘We also have laws and ordinances defining sanitation standards and others prohibiting disturbance of the public peace.’
    • ‘Other regulations were imposed by municipal ordinances.’
    • ‘In Tucson, where astronomy is big business, legislators enacted an ordinance that permits lights at night to shine only in a part of the spectrum that is easily filtered out by equipment on telescopes.’
    • ‘I'm pretty sure it violates a bylaw or an ordinance or something.’
    • ‘Something you may wish to consider, perhaps in a follow-up article, is the effect of municipal weed ordinances.’
    • ‘Employers providing health insurance under municipal living-wage ordinances have been allowed to form insurance-buyer pools.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, last Friday's Minneapolis City Council meeting was dominated by the smoking ban ordinance, which burned up nearly two hours of debate.’
    • ‘The two of them spoke in a droning monotone, as if talking about municipal zoning ordinances.’
    • ‘A proposed ordinance would ban ‘loitering’ on median strips; violators would be subject to a $500 fine and six months in jail.’
    • ‘I will be checking on the city ordinances to see what exactly the rules are - they shouldn't be any different than for a family reunion or company picnic.’
    • ‘Before 1840 municipal ordinances limited horse-drawn freight to a relatively small number of licensed carters whose prices were fixed by law.’
    • ‘Illegal disposal of solid waste is a violation of a city ordinance.’
    • ‘City governments passed tongue-in-cheek ordinances prohibiting Skylab from entering the municipal limits, or inviting it into the town, depending on the mood they were in.’
    • ‘The city recently had passed an ordinance that banned smoking in all restaurants, and he was counting down the seconds until he had to extinguish that last cigarette.’
    • ‘The South Hills municipality passed an ordinance this month banning smoking in public places for those under age 18.’
    • ‘Police representatives insisted that it was the responsibility of escorts to ensure they knew and abided by municipal, provincial and federal laws, ordinances and bylaws.’
    • ‘Los Angeles followed suit in 1998, and dozens of cities have now passed ordinances regulating their use in residential areas.’
    • ‘The city passed an ordinance that regulated open-air roasting and stipulated the use of stepped-up technology to abate the pollution.’
    • ‘For instance, it is clear that where police enforce municipal ordinances against unlawful assembly, civil disturbance and harassment, anti-abortion protestors move to another location.’
  • 2An authoritative order; a decree.

    • ‘Bulgarian producers will get preference in public procurement tenders, and this will be regulated by a Cabinet ordinance.’
    • ‘Wilson finally ordered his employees to stop enforcing the ordinance.’
    • ‘I asked the supervising officer for the exact ordinance but he couldn't recall it.’
    • ‘It also canceled a 1997 ordinance regulating the state's credit and loan agreements.’
    • ‘If it could rule by ordinances alone, it would.’
    • ‘The ordinance also says government authorities cannot ‘request forced labor.’’
    • ‘The ordinances are important because they will make the environment more predictable for investors and will enhance the chances for stable development of the sector, said Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Lydia Shuleva.’
    • ‘Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.’
    • ‘All 50 states have child-protection ordinances mandating that professionals who come in contact with children report cases of suspected abuse to the local child protective services agency.’
    • ‘Wildfires that scorched the West have emphasized the need for better road access for fire-fighting equipment; new ordinances are mandating wider roads with better turnarounds.’
    • ‘The details regarding the narrow limits that exist on the right to use these rooms and tight controls over them have since been regulated in special state government ordinances in order to prevent misuse.’
    • ‘The Cabinet approved an ordinance regulating the inspections connected to direct control of the protection of classified information.’
    • ‘Initially, the Government ordinance was received with mixed feelings by the public, and coldly by the Association of Hotel and Restaurant Owners, which argued that the regulations would ruin their businesses.’
    • ‘"The government has the intention to draft an ordinance regulating human reproductive technology in the future, and this will also regulate the use of stem cells, " the spokeswoman said.’
    • ‘The ordinance will regulate the services of water supply companies throughout the country.’
    • ‘The Democrats had to compromise on the scope to make the ordinance workable, because the government would have dropped the ordinance, Lee said.’
    • ‘The ordinance also provides rules for the registration of foreign students, and for control and co-ordination of tour operator contracts.’
    • ‘Charles's household ordinances were intended to re-introduce order and decorum into court life by re-establishing the etiquette of Henry VIII's time.’
    • ‘The government is apparently now contemplating bringing into force an ordinance which makes it mandatory for any channel in India to share feed of events of national interest with him.’
    • ‘When Bose became the vice-chancellor in June 2001, he found that the institution had flouted basic rules in its ordinance to give affiliation to about 40 institutions across the country.’
    edict, decree, law, injunction, fiat, command, order, rule, ruling, dictum, dictate, directive, mandate, enactment, statute, act, canon, regulation
    View synonyms
  • 3A prescribed religious rite.

    ‘Talmudic ordinances’
    • ‘As a result increasing numbers of churches intentionally observe the ordinances only at times (such as a midweek gathering) when few unbelievers are expected.’
    • ‘Such obedience included acceptance of the Mormon faith through baptism, living a moral and godly life, and the completion of certain ceremonies and ordinances in the temple.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, the Congress entertained papers on the Christian life, the ordinances, worship, and architecture.’
    • ‘They were keeping the ordinance that had been set before them in the Torah.’
    • ‘The rituals and ordinances of the Jews were set aside with that Nation and now the church does not have part in such observances.’
    • ‘Communion among Christians includes the recognition of certain sacred rites, especially the sacraments or ordinances that come to us from Christ and the apostles.’
    • ‘Secondly, church weddings had been abolished during the period of the Protectorate, and it was moreover a key tenet of Presbyterian teaching that marriage was not a sacrament but at most an ordinance.’
    • ‘First, we should not feel pressured to substitute man's devices for the doctrine and ordinances of God.’
    • ‘Historic Protestantism differs from Roman Catholicism in that it teaches that the ordinances of preaching and sacraments do not work automatically.’
    • ‘The presentation of the Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 is followed, in both cases, by more detailed statutes and ordinances.’
    • ‘The sacraments can communicate blessings apart from faith, and baptism appears to be a converting ordinance.’
    • ‘Genesis 17 expressly stipulates that all descendants of Abraham - that is, all who follow the ordinances of the God of Israel - are to be circumcised; rather, that the males are to be circumcised.’
    • ‘God set forth in the Sabbath ordinance His own pattern of rest.’
    rite, ritual, ceremony, sacrament, observance, service, usage, institution, practice
    View synonyms


Middle English (also in the sense ‘arrangement in ranks’): from Old French ordenance, from medieval Latin ordinantia, from Latin ordinare ‘put in order’ (see ordain).