Definition of prayer in English:

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Pronunciation: /prɛː/


1A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity: I’ll say a prayer for him [mass noun]: the peace of God is ours through prayer
More example sentences
  • The milder and more beneficent forces of nature were addressed as female deities and invoked with prayers.
  • Human beings are addressing God in prayers for help against the inducements of the devil.
  • God answers our prayers because by addressing them to Him we acknowledge His Lordship and power.
invocation, intercession, devotion
archaic orison
1.1 (prayers) A religious service, especially a regular one, at which people gather in order to pray together: 500 people were detained as they attended Friday prayers
More example sentences
  • With your graciousness come to honor her loving memory during the funeral services and prayers.
  • The mosque is now used by about 100 people for regular prayers and up to 200 for religious festivals.
  • The strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers, witnesses said.
1.2An earnest hope or wish: it is our prayer that the current progress on human rights will be sustained
More example sentences
  • Swan will carry the hopes and prayers of Ireland as the country's current equine hero seeks to retain his crown.
  • She started the restaurant when her marriage dissolved, on little but hope and prayers.
  • Our deepest sympathies, prayers and best wishes go out to our fellow citizens who were injured in the blast.


not have a prayer

informal Have no chance at all of succeeding at something.
Example sentences
  • He was doing the best he could, but he doesn't have a prayer in succeeding.
  • If you cannot write some big cheques you don't have a prayer, which means that the system always throws up the same people.
  • Under his plan, you don't have a prayer of getting a flu shot, ladies and gentlemen.
have no hope, not have/stand a chance, have/stand no chance, not have/stand the ghost of a chance
informal not have a hope in hell, not have a cat in hell's chance, not have a dog's chance, not have/stand an earthly, not have a snowball's chance (in hell)
Australian/New Zealand informal not have Buckley's (chance)


Middle English: from Old French preiere, based on Latin precarius 'obtained by entreaty', from prex, prec- 'prayer'.

  • precarious from mid 17th century:

    This is from Latin precarius ‘obtained by entreaty’, from prex, prec- ‘prayer’. The notion is one of something being dependent on the good grace of somebody else (needing entreaty), and therefore uncertain. Prayer (Middle English) is from the same word.

Words that rhyme with prayer

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Line breaks: pray¦er

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