Definition of rosary in US English:



  • 1(in the Roman Catholic Church) a form of devotion in which five (or fifteen) decades of Hail Marys are repeated, each decade preceded by an Our Father and followed by a Glory Be.

    ‘the congregation said the rosary’
    • ‘Occasionally he would pray the rosary during the week.’
    • ‘After each vision I would find the nearest church, seek sanctuary, kneel, and pray the rosary.’
    • ‘She found an empty place in a pew in the back of the church and after she genuflected, knelt and began her rosary.’
    • ‘Claudette couldn't concentrate on the epistle or the gospel, couldn't settle down to the rosary.’
    • ‘Feasts of the village patron saint are celebrated, the rosary said every evening and funeral rites arranged and paid for when necessary.’
    • ‘After a relative's funeral, families and their friends pray the rosary for nine evenings, offering refreshments after each night's prayers.’
    • ‘I'm not one of those church-going kids who prays the rosary every night.’
    • ‘He holds a degree from Northwestern University, speaks four languages fluently and as ‘a good Catholic boy’ he prayed the rosary after Mass every Sunday.’
    • ‘Instead of saying the rosary, I kept saying her name as I paced my office wishing that I smoked (it was fine in the end).’
    • ‘After the walk, she says the rosary, sometimes all 150 Hail Marys.’
    • ‘It had been a day or two since I had sat in a dimmed church, all alone, to say the rosary.’
    • ‘They took communion; they recited the rosary (an increasingly popular devotion in this period); and they made their confessions, usually to a priest or a friar.’
    • ‘The old ladies were praying a rosary in the back of the bus.’
    • ‘Isabella felt so blessed by God that she offered two novenas, three rosaries and gave more donations to the order she was part of.’
    • ‘Nevertheless about 10 per cent of the early convicts were Catholics, and a network formed among emancipists to pray the rosary and maintain other devotional practices.’
    • ‘The mission began each morning with a Mass at five o'clock, followed by a second at nine-thirty and rosary in the evenings at seven with instruction.’
    • ‘Do the Catholics make you say the rosary before lunch?’
    1. 1.1 A string of beads for keeping count in a rosary or in the devotions of some other religions.
      • ‘With her free hand in her pocket, clutching her rosary, she steeled herself against the crowd and followed Sean into the gym.’
      • ‘For the final touch, she'd added a rosary made of black glass and pewter, finishing off the look she was going for perfectly.’
      • ‘He made the sign of the cross and grabbed his rosary.’
      • ‘She lifted the rosary that hung at her belt and gently kissed it.’
      • ‘The cousin put away his rosary and put on a confessional grin to admit, correctly in our eyes, that ‘Well, I guess it helps to have a Lutheran in the stands every now and then.’’
      • ‘On the cot a seventy four-year lady is sitting with her rosary beads and chanting softly.’
      • ‘One man was holding a long string of rosary beads in his trembling hands.’
      • ‘According to chronicler William of Malmesbury, her dying act was characteristically pious: as a final gift to the Priory, she ordered hung about the neck of a statue of the Virgin Mary her personal rosary of precious stones.’
      • ‘People I've never met before have sent me novena cards and rosary beads, and two or three people apologised to me and wished me support.’
      • ‘He sighed deeply and I could hear him shift his fingers through the beads of his rosary.’
      • ‘I put on my wedding band and I grabbed my rosary, and I went upstairs.’
      • ‘So we can use things like crosses, holy water, bibles, rosaries, and even something as small as a speck of holy ashes.’
      • ‘I stroked the beads of the rosary, and the glitter of the tiny crucifix caught my eye.’
      • ‘She had her rosary beads, and was praying to St. Catherine.’
      • ‘Her head was bowed, lips moving silently as she clutched her rosary beads.’
      • ‘I'll look for the rosary Mama gave me on my birthday.’
      • ‘Taking a deep breath of his own, Patrick looked over at his mother as she slowly rocked back and forth, counting the beads of her rosary.’
      • ‘She went to Mass when she could get a ride; she ran her fingers over her plastic rosary, saying Hail Marys with each bead.’
      • ‘It still has the red-beaded rosary I left on top of it when I came to visit.’
      • ‘Some delay to ensure every petal on their rose, each side of their prayer card and every bead of their rosary makes contact.’
      strand, rope, necklace, chaplet
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A book containing a rosary.
      • ‘Their mailbox is packed daily with letters from well-wishers containing prayer cards, medals and rosaries.’
      • ‘There are shops and stalls where you can buy rosaries, beads, postcards, books and fluffy toys.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘rose garden’): from Latin rosarium ‘rose garden’, based on rosa ‘rose’.