Definition of pray in US English:

pray

verb

[no object]
  • 1Address a solemn request or expression of thanks to a deity or other object of worship.

    ‘the whole family is praying for Michael’
    with object ‘pray God this is true’
    • ‘And I started to pray out loud, and I just became immediately calm.’
    • ‘She was helped through her exams by knowing that her vicar was praying for her to succeed.’
    • ‘Churches were praying for the souls of the kids caught up in the glare of those flashing lights.’
    • ‘If you wish to have children, you pray to the fertility goddess.’
    • ‘We can discharge this obligation by simply praying for him as we pray for our dear ones and our own very selves.’
    • ‘People fervently pray, hoping to keep the calamities at bay.’
    • ‘I am a devout Christian who prays every day.’
    • ‘I silently prayed to God for guidance as to what to do next.’
    • ‘I went to the local chapel, and prayed to the Almighty for help.’
    • ‘Muslims also pray in mosques on Friday, their holy day of the week.’
    • ‘If that happens, please pray for my soul.’
    • ‘As well as this, consider getting involved in praying for the mission, or in helping out in a practical way.’
    • ‘So my advice is: pray more, sin less and live the life that God is calling you to live.’
    • ‘He would lie on the ground and gaze upward at the heavens and pray for deliverance.’
    • ‘Robert silently prayed to God, hoping that others were backing him up on this case.’
    • ‘Today, for instance, women not only pray at the mosque but also participate in social activities there.’
    • ‘But hundreds of people gathered outside to sing hymns and pray on his behalf.’
    • ‘People pray to these deities because they have an adoration for the deity and have a feeling of awe about it.’
    • ‘He looked like a priest praying for strength.’
    • ‘The only explanation for this is a miracle from God, as we had been praying for her at church.’
    say one's prayers, be at prayer, make one's devotions
    invoke, call on, implore, appeal to, entreat, beseech, beg, ask earnestly, request earnestly, plead, crave, petition, solicit, supplicate, importune
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Wish or hope strongly for a particular outcome or situation.
      ‘after several days of rain, we were praying for sun’
      with clause ‘I prayed that James wouldn't notice’
      • ‘Well, I just hope and pray we work in a bipartisan way and from the middle, but early indications are not so good.’
      • ‘It was one of those situations when you prayed that everything would be alright but feared what could happen.’
      • ‘I hope and pray he will resist the pressures to idolize pop stars, Hollywood types, and athletes.’
      • ‘Meg watched as twenty girls held their breaths, hoping and praying for their name to be called.’
      • ‘I stand up on each tee and hope and pray that I find the fairway.’
      • ‘Nope, I don't expect or hope or even pray to accomplish anything even remotely useful.’
      • ‘I sincerely pray and hope that Britain does not pass this Bill.’
      • ‘With the immediate talk of retaliation yesterday, I hope and pray that those in command consider their actions carefully.’
      • ‘I have to tell you, I can only hope and pray that I have a child as loving and as wonderful as you.’
      • ‘We can only hope and pray that the line of Zambian football will roar again.’
      • ‘I consumed a truly scrumptious chilliburger and hoped, no prayed, that there would be a toilet or pub on the route.’
      • ‘Like Charlie, I hope and pray that everyone is able to get out there and vote.’
      • ‘In the meantime, let's hope and pray for a safe and quiet election season.’
      • ‘As all the children have started their exams we hope and pray for good results and the best of luck to each and all of them.’
      • ‘And you know, when you go into it, you just hope and pray that your number won't come up.’
      • ‘And whatever happens, I just pray and hope that we will not have to go around crying and whatever.’
      • ‘Though obviously I hope and pray that this never happens.’
      • ‘In facing and planning for disasters, whether natural or man-made, we must do more than hope and pray for the best.’
      • ‘"It's got to the point where every weekend you just pray for rain.’
      • ‘I hope and pray that it will click at the box office and be a big hit.’

adverb

archaic, formal
  • 1Used as a preface to polite requests or instructions.

    ‘pray continue’
    please, if you please, if you would be so good, if you wouldn't mind, have the goodness to, pray
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used as a way of adding ironic or sarcastic emphasis to a question.
      ‘and what, pray, was the purpose of that?’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘ask earnestly’): from Old French preier, from late Latin precare, alteration of Latin precari ‘entreat’.

Pronunciation

pray

/prā//preɪ/