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[awr-dn-uh ns] /ˈɔr dn əns/
an authoritative rule or law; a decree or command.
a public injunction or regulation:
a city ordinance against excessive horn blowing.
something believed to have been ordained, as by a deity or destiny.
  1. an established rite or ceremony.
  2. a sacrament.
  3. the communion.
Origin of ordinance
1275-1325; Middle English ordinaunce (< Old French ordenance) < Medieval Latin ordinantia, derivative of Latin ordinant- (stem of ordināns), present participle of ordināre to arrange. See ordination, -ance
Related forms
preordinance, noun
Can be confused
ordinance, ordnance, ordonnance.
1, 2. order. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ordinance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cession of Georgia conveys the Territory subject to the ordinance of '87, except the provision prohibiting slavery.

    Abraham Lincoln George Haven Putnam
  • And the sacred "ordinance," with all other proprieties, was left in ruins that day.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Yet the ordinance of the daily oblations set an example to those who would otherwise have been careless in expressing gratitude.

  • "If there were not an ordinance against the hurling of missiles," finished the widower.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • Yet the ordinance provided for coperation with other states upon the basis of the Federal Constitution.

British Dictionary definitions for ordinance


an authoritative regulation, decree, law, or practice
Word Origin
C14: from Old French ordenance, from Latin ordināre to set in order
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 ordinance

c.1300, "an authoritative direction, decree, or command" (narrower or more transitory than a law), from Old French ordenance (Modern French ordonnance) or directly from Medieval Latin ordinantia, from Latin ordinantem (nominative ordinans), present participle of ordinare "put in order" (see ordain). By early 14c. senses had emerged of "arrangement in ranks or rows" (especially in order of battle), also "warlike provisions, equipment" (a sense now in ordnance).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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