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[awr-deyn] /ɔrˈdeɪn/
verb (used with object)
to invest with ministerial or sacerdotal functions; confer holy orders upon.
to enact or establish by law, edict, etc.:
to ordain a new type of government.
to decree; give orders for:
He ordained that the restrictions were to be lifted.
(of God, fate, etc.) to destine or predestine:
Fate had ordained the meeting.
verb (used without object)
to order or command:
Thus do the gods ordain.
to select for or appoint to an office.
to invest someone with sacerdotal functions.
Origin of ordain
1250-1300; Middle English ordeinen < Old French ordener < Latin ordināre to order, arrange, appoint. See ordination
Related forms
ordainable, adjective
ordainer, noun
ordainment, noun
reordain, verb (used with object)
self-ordained, adjective
self-ordainer, noun
superordain, verb (used without object)
unordainable, adjective
unordained, adjective
3. order, prescribe, determine. 4. predetermine. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ordain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That prophet was called by revelation and ordained by one having authority to ordain him.

    Cowley's Talks on Doctrine Matthias F. Cowley
  • And tell me,” added Alcibiades, “do they ordain to do what is good, or what is ill?

  • Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be distressed, we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner.

  • She no longer had any question for that which he chose to ordain.

    The Golden Woman Ridgwell Cullum
  • Well, I won't say a word—I won't mention your name, since you so ordain it.

    Willing to Die Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
British Dictionary definitions for ordain


verb (transitive)
to consecrate (someone) as a priest; confer holy orders upon
(may take a clause as object) to decree, appoint, or predestine irrevocably
(may take a clause as object) to order, establish, or enact with authority
(obsolete) to select for an office
Derived Forms
ordainer, noun
ordainment, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Anglo-Norman ordeiner, from Late Latin ordināre, from Latin ordoorder
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 ordain

late 13c., "to appoint or admit to the ministry of the Church," from stem of Old French ordener "place in order, arrange, prepare; consecrate, designate" (Modern French ordonner) and directly from Latin ordinare "put in order, arrange, dispose, appoint," from ordo (genitive ordinis) "order" (see order (n.)). The notion is "to confer holy orders upon." Meaning "to decree, enact" is from c.1300; sense of "to set (something) that will continue in a certain order" is from early 14c. Related: Ordained; ordaining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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