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[prey] /preɪ/
verb (used with object)
to offer devout petition, praise, thanks, etc., to (God or an object of worship).
to offer (a prayer).
to bring, put, etc., by praying:
to pray a soul into heaven.
to make earnest petition to (a person).
to make petition or entreaty for; crave:
She prayed his forgiveness.
to offer devout petition, praise, thanks, etc., to God or to an object of worship.
to enter into spiritual communion with God or an object of worship through prayer.
verb (used without object)
to make entreaty or supplication, as to a person or for a thing.
1250-1300; Middle English preien < Old French preierLatin precārī to beg, pray, derivative of prex (stem prec-) prayer; akin to Old English fricgan, Dutch vragen, German fragen, Gothic fraihnan to ask
Related forms
prayingly, adverb
outpray, verb (used with object)
unpraying, adjective
Can be confused
pray, prayer, prey.
4. importune, entreat, supplicate, beg, beseech, implore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for praying
  • She had her hands in the praying position looking up.
  • On the eve of the operations, church groups began two weeks of praying for one set of patients.
  • The meditation while praying helps the brain to relax.
  • We should be praying for warming instead of trying to cool the planet.
  • Eric has been praying to the weather gods but to no avail.
  • Next time you're sick try praying instead of taking meds and see what happens.
  • Their goal is to have one million people praying for him.
  • There is nothing that prevents me from openly wishing for and praying that will happen.
  • praying for the chance of landing a low-paying and potentially short-lived job in academe is another.
  • Mike's tiny sculptures range from spiders to dragonflies, with scorpions, hoppers and praying mantises coming on line soon.
British Dictionary definitions for praying


when intr, often foll by for; when tr, usually takes a clause as object. to utter prayers (to God or other object of worship): we prayed to God for the sick child
(when transitive, usually takes a clause as object or an infinitive) to make an earnest entreaty (to or for); beg or implore: she prayed to be allowed to go, leave, I pray you
(transitive) (rare) to accomplish or bring by praying: to pray a soul into the kingdom
(archaic) I beg you; please: pray, leave us alone
Word Origin
C13: from Old French preier, from Latin precārī to implore, from prex an entreaty; related to Old English fricgan, Old High German frāgēn to ask, Old Norse fregna to enquire
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for praying



early 13c., "ask earnestly, beg," also (c.1300) "pray to a god or saint," from Old French preier "to pray" (c.900, Modern French prier), from Vulgar Latin *precare (also source of Italian pregare), from Latin precari "ask earnestly, beg, entreat," from *prex (plural preces, genitive precis) "prayer, request, entreaty," from PIE root *prek- "to ask, request, entreat" (cf. Sanskrit prasna-, Avestan frashna- "question;" Old Church Slavonic prositi, Lithuanian prasyti "to ask, beg;" Old High German frahen, German fragen, Old English fricgan "to ask" a question).

Parenthetical expression I pray you, "please, if you will," attested from 1510s, contracted to pray 16c. Related: Prayed; praying. Praying mantis attested from 1809. The "Gardener's Monthly" of July 1861 lists other names for it as camel cricket, soothsayer, and rear horse.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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