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[roh-zuh-ree] /ˈroʊ zə ri/
noun, plural rosaries.
Roman Catholic Church.
  1. a series of prayers, usually consisting of 15 decades of aves, each decade being preceded by a paternoster and followed by a Gloria Patri, one of the mysteries or events in the life of Christ or the Virgin Mary being recalled at each decade.
  2. a string of beads used for counting these prayers during their recitation.
  3. a similar string of beads consisting of five decades.
(among other religious bodies) a string of beads similarly used in praying.
a rose garden or a bed of roses.
Origin of rosary
1350-1400 for earlier sense; 1400-50 for sense “rose garden”; 1540-50 for def 1; Middle English rosarie < Medieval Latin rosārium, in all current senses, Latin: rose garden, equivalent to ros(a) rose1 + -ārium -ary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rosary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It forbids the use of a rosary, but attaches great merit to counting the ninety-nine names of God on the fingers.

    The Faith of Islam Edward Sell
  • And he went straight to the rosary, as though he were determined to conquer death.

  • The poor Abbé seemed dazed, and kept dreamily fingering his rosary, and murmuring to himself.

    A Modern Telemachus Charlotte M. Yonge
  • For hours the beads of his rosary would glide between his fingers.

  • He entered at the head of a band of priests, piously counting his rosary.

    The Three Lieutenants W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for rosary


noun (pl) -saries
(RC Church)
  1. a series of prayers counted on a string of beads, usually consisting of five or 15 decades of Aves, each decade beginning with a Paternoster and ending with a Gloria
  2. a string of 55 or 165 beads used to count these prayers as they are recited
(in other religions) a similar string of beads used in praying
a bed or garden of roses
an archaic word for garland (sense 1)
Word Origin
C14: from Latin rosārium rose garden, from rosārius of roses, from rosarose1
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 rosary

"rose garden," mid-15c., from Latin rosarium "rose garden," in Medieval Latin also "garland; string of beads; series of prayers," from noun use of neuter of rosarius "of roses," from rosa "rose" (see rose (n.1)).

The sense of "series of prayers" is 1540s, from Middle French rosaire, a figurative use of the word meaning "rose garden," on the notion of a "garden" of prayers. This probably embodies the medieval conceit of comparing collections to bouquets (cf. anthology and Medieval Latin hortulus animae "prayerbook," literally "little garden of the soul"). Sense transferred 1590s to the strings of beads used as a memory aid in reciting the rosary.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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rosary in Medicine

rosary ro·sa·ry (rō'zə-rē)
An arrangement or structure that is beadlike in appearance.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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rosary in Culture

rosary definition

A set of prayers common in the Roman Catholic Church, said during meditation on events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary, the mother of Jesus. A rosary is also the string of beads that the worshiper uses to count the prayers.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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