Definition of order in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɔːdə/


1 [mass noun] The arrangement or disposition of people or things in relation to each other according to a particular sequence, pattern, or method: I filed the cards in alphabetical order
More example sentences
  • Dignitaries were seated in alphabetical order, according to their countries.
  • The names are in alphabetical order and first, second and third places will be announced on the night of the ceremony.
  • If there are no children and no spouse then parents, brothers and sisters, and more distant relatives roughly in that order will benefit.
sequence, arrangement, organization, disposition, structure, system, series, succession;
grouping, classification, categorization, codification, systematization, disposal, form;
layout, array, set-up, line-up
1.1A state in which everything is in its correct or appropriate place: she tried to put her shattered thoughts into some semblance of order
More example sentences
  • The Victorians brought order to everything - scientific research included.
  • Thousands of commuters faced the prospect of trying to get home as the initial chaos gave way to some semblance of order by mid-afternoon.
  • One day I'll reorganise the sections into some semblance of order.
tidiness, neatness, orderliness, trimness, harmony, apple-pie order
1.2A state in which the laws and rules regulating public behaviour are observed and authority is obeyed: the army was deployed to keep order
More example sentences
  • As long as the public identifies order with law, it will believe that an orderly society is impossible without the law the state provides.
  • Because once the law goes order collapses and the rule of the gun or the bully prevails.
  • To maintain public order, the authorities instituted a regular, salaried police force.
peace, control, lawful behaviour, law and order, law, lawfulness, discipline, calm, quiet, peace and quiet, quietness, peacefulness, peaceableness, tranquillity, serenity
1.3The prescribed or established procedure followed by a meeting, legislative assembly, debate, or court of law: the meeting was called to order
More example sentences
  • She banged her hammer, noting that the meeting was over and calling the court to order.
  • The Lukhanji town council has adopted new rules of order to regulate the conduct of its council and committee meetings.
  • After the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting was called to order.
1.4A stated form of liturgical service, or of administration of a rite, prescribed by ecclesiastical authority.
Example sentences
  • The order of service has not yet been finalised but a police family liaison officer has been asked to read a poem during the service.
  • As I have been to many Evensongs since, the order of the service is now second nature.
  • Much of the music and order of service had been chosen by the Princess herself.
2An authoritative command or instruction: he was not going to take orders from a mere administrator [with infinitive]: the skipper gave the order to abandon ship
More example sentences
  • Nobody likes taking orders or advice from others.
  • The commander bellowed the orders and the men rushed to do the his bidding.
  • Once they were airborne, James turned on his radio to receive any last minute instructions or orders.
command, instruction, directive, direction, decree, edict, injunction, mandate, dictate, commandment;
law, rule, regulation, ordinance, statute, fiat, diktat;
demand, bidding, requirement, stipulation;
summons, writ, warrant;
in Spanish-speaking countries pronunciamento;
in Tsarist Russia ukase
informal say-so
literary behest
rare rescript
2.1A verbal or written request for something to be made, supplied, or served: the firm has won an order for six tankers
More example sentences
  • Once you're seated, the waitress promptly takes your order and then serves the dish.
  • The waitress wrote down the orders and left with a smile on her face.
  • In the last week it has won orders worth more than £300,000.
commission, purchase order, request, requisition, demand, call;
booking, reservation, application
2.2A thing made, supplied, or served as a result of an order: he would deliver special orders for the Sunday dinner
More example sentences
  • Customer service is also rated a top priority, with the company aiming to deliver 90 per cent of orders by the next day.
  • I left the house in time to prepare the orders and get them delivered.
  • After a tiring morning I come home and find that my postman had delivered my recent order from Amazon.
2.3A written direction of a court or judge: she was admitted to hospital under a guardianship order
More example sentences
  • A High Court judge made an order which will result in the twins being returned to Missouri in the United States where they were born.
  • They were released from custody over the weekend on the orders of a District Judge at Manchester Magistrates Court.
  • He was acquitted on the orders of a judge on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
2.4A written direction to pay money or deliver property.
Example sentences
  • The clearing banks' role in the payment and collection of cheques and other payment orders is directly related to one of their main activities, namely the maintenance of current accounts.
  • He was held to be in breach of fiduciary duty when he misappropriated funds from the company's bank account by fraudulently altering the name of the payee on a payment order addressed to the bank.
3A particular social, political, or economic system: they were dedicated to overthrowing the established order
More example sentences
  • An important political component of the post-war order was the United Nations.
  • There is a real revolutionary process under way, aiming to overturn the existing political and economic order.
  • It is rather a political order which supports the survival of weak states.
system, class system, hierarchy, pecking order, grouping, grading, ranking, scale
3.1 (often orders) A social class: the upper social orders
More example sentences
  • The magazine was clearly bought by those of the lower social orders who sought to improve themselves, and such people got little encouragement from most of the intellectual community.
  • Concerned citizens became dismayed at the suffering among what they then called the lower social orders.
  • They were by no means from the upper orders, these were street kids in Los Angeles.
class, level, rank, caste, grade, degree, position, station, category
3.2A rank in the Christian ministry, especially that of bishop, priest, or deacon.
Example sentences
  • In the past we've split over such things as the punctuation of the creeds, the orders of ministry and the nature of communion.
  • The diaconate is a full and analogous order of ordained ministry to which both men and women are called by God.
  • I will look also at some intriguing hints that Rome may be reconsidering its position that Anglican ministerial orders are null and void.
3.3 (orders) The rank of a member of the clergy or an ordained minister of the Church: he took priest’s orders See also holy orders.
More example sentences
  • After taking orders in 1782, he became the perpetual curate of Barton-under-Needwood in 1783.
  • He was educated at Cambridge, took priest's orders, and became known as a preacher.
  • He became a monk and may have taken deacon's orders.
3.4 Theology Any of the nine grades of angelic beings in the celestial hierarchy as formulated by Pseudo-Dionysius.
Example sentences
  • Hierarchies and litanies were emphasized: the nine orders of the angels, the Joys and Sorrows of the Virgin.
  • Angels, however, the lowest of the nine orders, do not have wings.
4 (also Order) A society of monks, nuns, or friars living under the same religious, moral, and social regulations and discipline: the Franciscan Order
More example sentences
  • With the exception of some religious orders in which monks vow to live in solitude, most of us need other people to add texture to our lives.
  • Among the religious orders, only the friars had a vocation that by its very nature embraced the seriously poor and, indeed, the utterly destitute in the regular course of events.
  • Luxembourg has also traditionally been the home of a great number of convents and religious orders, a number that has dwindled since the last century.
community, brotherhood, sisterhood
4.1 historical A society of knights bound by a common rule of life and having a combined military and monastic character: the Templars were also known as the Order of Christ
More example sentences
  • The military orders, and the knights under King John put up a valiant defense and saved what they could of the army.
  • Only the strong leadership of John and the military orders saved the army at all; even so, thousands died that day
  • Feudalism was abolished along with the Inquisition and the Church's military orders, and two-thirds of monasteries and convents were dissolved.
4.2An institution founded by a monarch along the lines of a medieval crusading monastic order for the purpose of honouring meritorious conduct.
Example sentences
  • The order became defunct with the death of its last knight, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, in 1974.
  • In 1998 he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest honour.
  • He was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour by his second country in 1896 and a commander of the order in 1933.
4.3The insignia worn by members of an order of honour or merit.
4.4A Masonic or similar fraternity.
Example sentences
  • The lobby in Westminster is believed by many to have been based originally on a Masonic order.
  • Freemasonry, though banned from time to time, flourished in Russia, and the Masonic orders had a wide range of members.
organization, association, society, fellowship, body, fraternity, confraternity, sorority, brotherhood, sisterhood, lodge, guild, league, union, club;
denomination, sect
rare sodality
5 [in singular] The quality or nature of something: poetry of the highest order
More example sentences
  • The reality of this world is that there is nothing for free and everything of this order comes at a cost.
  • It has more than adequate accuracy for that purpose and a high order of reliability.
  • Her vibrancy, dramatic range and willowy elegance make her a classical ballerina of the highest order.
type, kind, sort, nature, variety, ilk, genre, cast, style, brand, vintage;
quality, calibre, standard
5.1 [with adjective] The overall state or condition of something: the house had only just been vacated and was in good order
More example sentences
  • The field was in good order but the damp conditions hampered the accuracy of the passing between sides.
  • When my room was in perfect order and everything was exactly how I wanted it we left the room.
  • Paramount has done a fine job at making sure that everything is in working order in this picture.
condition, state, repair, shape, situation
6 Biology A principal taxonomic category that ranks below class and above family: the higher orders of insects
More example sentences
  • Genera are the smallest basic groups of related species; higher up on the taxonomic ladder, orders encompass hundreds of genera.
  • This epoch is characterized by the appearance of all of the presently existing orders and families, and many of the existing genera of mammals.
  • There are approximately 650 to 700 extant species of cephalopods in two subclasses and five orders.
taxonomic group, class, subclass, family, species, breed
technical taxon
7Any of the five classical styles of architecture (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite) based on the proportions of columns and the style of their decoration.
Example sentences
  • Work out for yourself the differences between Corinthian, Ionic and Doric orders.
  • The Pantheon in Rome is an ideal case study for understanding classical space, orders, composition, light, and character.
  • The interior of Syon Hall has a Doric order with high attic and flat-beamed ceiling.
7.1Any style of architecture subject to uniform established proportions.
8 [mass noun, with modifier] Military Equipment or uniform for a specified purpose or of a specified type: the platoon changed from drill order into PT kit
More example sentences
  • They normally wear Home Service review order dress as would have been worn on garrison duties and manoeuvres during the latter part of the nineteenth century.
  • Behind them, dressed in review order, marched the infantry of the British Army.
8.1 (the order) The position in which a rifle is held after ordering arms. See order arms below.
9 Mathematics The degree of complexity of an equation, expression, etc., as denoted by an ordinal number.
Example sentences
  • The transient equations for the second orders of the identity coefficients are too complicated to solve.
  • In the study of differential equations his methods of lowering the order of an equation and separating variables were important.
  • His research was mostly on second order ordinary differential equations.
9.1The number of differentiations required to reach the highest derivative in a differential equation.
9.2The number of elements in a finite group.
Example sentences
  • He examines orders of elements and proves (although not in this notation) that there is a subgroup for every number dividing the order of a cyclic group.
  • He received his doctorate for a thesis entitled Contributions to the theory of integral functions of finite order in 1929.
  • Cauchy had already proved that a group whose order is divisible by a prime p has an element of order p.
9.3The number of rows or columns in a square matrix.


1 [reporting verb] Give an authoritative instruction to do something: [with object and infinitive]: she ordered me to leave [with direct speech]: ‘Stop frowning,’ he ordered [with clause]: he ordered that the ship be abandoned [with object]: the judge ordered a retrial
More example sentences
  • He was taken before a judge last Thursday who ordered that he be held in custody.
  • The judge ordered that he and his family be placed in a witness protection programme.
  • Officers will have the power to order gangs of yobs to disperse or face arrest.
instruct, command, direct, enjoin, give the order to, give the command to, tell, require, charge, adjure
literary bid
decree, ordain, rule, legislate, lay down, dictate, prescribe, pronounce, determine
rare enact
1.1 [with object] (order someone about/around) Continually tell someone to do things in an overbearing way: she resented being ordered about
More example sentences
  • Despite being so much younger than her, he has a real public school cockiness and she loves the way he orders her about.
  • Later, I saw him screaming at male crew members, ordering them about and obviously enjoying their subservience and the fact that they couldn't answer him back.
  • And then an officer walks by me and starts ordering me around.
tell someone what to do, give orders to, boss about/around, bully, lord it over, dictate to, ride roughshod over, dominate, domineer, browbeat;
throw one's weight about/around, lay down the law
informal push about/around
1.2 [with object and complement] North American Command (something) to be done or (someone) to be treated in a particular way: he ordered the anchor dropped
More example sentences
  • He ordered foreign investment and competition dropped.
  • Expressing concerns about vandalism, the landlord ordered the artwork removed.
  • They ordered the offshore funds returned to the United States.
2 [with object] Request (something) to be made, supplied, or served: my mate ordered the tickets last week [with two objects]: I asked the security guard to order me a taxi [no object]: are you ready to order, sir?
More example sentences
  • I almost always order a grilled sole served with green beans or spinach.
  • She ordered the lobster, crab and prawn terrine.
  • He likes to be able to get by in new countries, and where better to start than to learn how to order drinks in bars?
request, apply for, send away/off for, write off for, put in an order for, place an order for, requisition;
book, reserve;
commission, contract for
rare bespeak
3 [with object] Arrange (something) in a methodical way: all entries are ordered by date (as adjective, in combination -ordered) her normally well-ordered life
More example sentences
  • In fact one of the characteristics of Dietrich as a thinker is the systematic way in which he not only orders his thoughts but his treatises as well.
  • Jenny admits that with two small children, she has to order her time very carefully.
  • I have to order my notes once, twice, three times before I can start actually using them.
organize, put in order, set in order, arrange, sort out, straighten out, marshal, dispose, lay out, regulate;
group, classify, categorize, catalogue, codify, systematize, systemize, tabulate;
Medicine  triage
rare methodize



by order

According to directions given by the proper authority: he was released from prison by order of the court
More example sentences
  • He was released by order of an examining magistrate on 30 June after 44 days without access to judicial review or to his family or lawyer.
  • Services will be curtailed while fire doors are replaced, by order of the Health and Safety Authority.
  • Children under the care of a local authority by voluntary agreement or by order of a court often have poor physical and mental health.

in order

1According to a particular sequence: list the points you intend to cover and put them in order
More example sentences
  • But on top of that, you have to put the chronology in order here.
  • He bet £1 and as the game progressed was dealt - in order - two red aces, a five and two more red aces.
  • Although the stages of grief are described, they don't progress in order.
in sequence, in alphabetical order, in numerical order, in order of priority, in order of merit, in order of seniority
2In the correct condition for operation or use: it is the liquidator’s task to put the affairs of the company in order
More example sentences
  • Jon liked everything tidy and in order where he could find it, but James Hyde was a messy man.
  • Sit down this weekend, get your affairs in order, and I promise you can trim hundreds of pounds, in some cases thousands, off your annual costs.
  • When purchasing land, one must be careful to ensure that the title deeds are in order and that the land has been correctly classified.
tidy, neat, neat and tidy, orderly, straight, trim, shipshape (and Bristol fashion), in apple-pie order, spick and span;
in position, in place
3In accordance with the rules of procedure at a meeting, legislative assembly, etc. surely it is in order for Conservative Members to put various policy options to the Prime Minister?
More example sentences
  • My recollection is that one supplementary question was ruled as being in order on that particular day.
  • Just yesterday that word was ruled in order when it was used by a Minister in answering a question in this House.
  • But the Assembly has now determined that the Bluestone decision is quite in order and will not need further examination.
3.1Appropriate in the circumstances: a little bit of flattery was now in order
More example sentences
  • A little modesty or circumspection would be in order here.
  • It occurred to me at about 3am, as I lay in bed with a raging fever and hacking cough, that perhaps a visit to a doctor was in order.
  • Maybe some professional expert opinions are in order here.
appropriate, fitting, suitable, right, correct, proper;
acceptable, all right, permissible, permitted, allowable;
French comme il faut
informal okay

in order for (or that)

So that: staff must be committed to the change in order for it to succeed
More example sentences
  • She added the council was pursuing the acquisition of land and property along the route in order for the scheme to go ahead.
  • All of these are valid questions, because in order for a bully to succeed he or she must have victims.
  • Classes were cancelled after the school shut for a day and a half at the height of the crisis in order for security to be increased.

in order to do something

With the purpose of doing something: he slouched into his seat in order to avoid drawing attention to himself
More example sentences
  • This creates a problem for a company that needs to maximise its profits in order to grow.
  • It is an individual sport where you have to handle the pressure in order to succeed.
  • Also, do you need to have a credit history with a bank in order to take out a loan?

of the order of

chiefly British
1Approximately: sales increases are of the order of 20 per cent
More example sentences
  • We're looking at the risk of destabilisation of the West Antarctic ice sheet, or a very rapid decay of the ice sheet, leading to sea rise over centuries of the order of 6 or 7 metres or so.
  • We estimate that total area of infestation is only of the order of about 350 hectares and that's spread along about 60, 70 or so isolated populations.
  • It is reasonable to assume that in due course he will have an earning capacity of the order of £10,000 per annum, but that it will take three years before he is likely to achieve that level of earnings.
roughly, approximately, about, around, just about, round about, or so, or thereabouts, more or less, in the neighbourhood of, in the region of, in the area of, in the vicinity of, something like, or thereabouts, give or take (a few), in round numbers, rounded up/down;
near to, close to, nearly, not far off, almost, approaching;
British  getting on for;
Latin circa
informal pushing, as near as dammit
North American informal in the ballpark of
archaic nigh
2 Mathematics Having the order of magnitude specified by.
Example sentences
  • A spectrograph/diode array system accomplishes the detection with a signal-to-noise ratio of the order of 105.
  • With N of the order of 100 for 20dB sensitivity improvement, the total work of acquisition rises to some five orders of magnitude greater.
  • Integral-expressing K562 cells were pushed by a force of the order of 100 pN against surfaces coated with iibronectin fragments.

on order

(Of goods) requested but not yet received from the supplier or manufacturer: the helicopters have been on order for two years
More example sentences
  • The firm currently operates four vessels - three bulk carriers and an oil tanker - and has a fifth on order at Guangzhou Shipyard International.
  • And congratulations on the book: I've got a copy on order today.
  • Paul Cheevers, District Manager for Iarnrod Eireann in Waterford said that the steel girders were on order and were due to be put in place over the weekend.

on the order of

chiefly North American
Example sentences
  • Private economists at Goldman Sachs expect the deficits will be on the order of $300 to $375 billion.
  • Even if economic output shrinks by 2 % this quarter, productivity would still grow on the order of 2 %.
  • The pack's annual operating budget is on the order of $2000.
2Similar to: singers on the order of Janis Joplin
More example sentences
  • While not a classic on the order of 1991, this was a memorable World Series, filled with some strange and often surreal moments.
  • Mitchell grew up in a home where people on the order of Thornton Wilder, Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot came to visit.
  • Winkler's film seems to aspire to a quirky social commentary on the order of American Beauty.

Order! (or Order! Order!)

A call for silence or the observance of the prescribed procedures by someone in charge of a meeting, legislative assembly, etc.
Example sentences
  • ‘Order! ‘the judge yelled again, this time striking her gavel against a small wooden block.
  • We have had the entire Government front bench calling out, and all you did was to call out ‘Order!’

order arms

Military Hold a rifle with its butt on the ground close to one’s right side.
Example sentences
  • On the command ‘Sentries Pass,’ I saluted, ordered arms and stood at ease.
  • The three soldiers ordered arms and went on about their duties and the gates began to close.

order of battle

The units, formations, and equipment of a military force.
Example sentences
  • Few old county infantry regiments remain in the British Army order of battle, but the Duke of Wellington's Regiment is proudly celebrating that very status after 300 years.
  • American historians were disputing basic issues, such as the enemy order of battle, decades after the conflict came to an end.
  • Scobell is credited with providing valuable intelligence on Confederate order of battle, status of supplies, and troop morale and movements.

the order of the day

1The prevailing custom or state of affairs: on Sundays, a black suit was the order of the day confusion would seem to be the order of the day
More example sentences
  • This is the stark reality in a city where cutthroat competition between textile businesses is the order of the day.
  • When the Great Depression came in 1929 and business failures became the order of the day Holt, like everyone else, was placed under tremendous pressure.
  • The affair probably dates back to the hedonistic days, of the late Eighties and early Nineties when conspicuous consumption was the order of the day.
predominant, prevalent, current, customary, established, common, widespread, preponderant, in force, in effect, popular
informal the in thing
2(In a legislature) the business to be considered on a particular day.

orders are orders

Commands must be obeyed, however much one may disagree with them: orders are orders and you’re only doing your duty
More example sentences
  • It's a shame that such beauty has to be wasted, but orders are orders.
  • But orders are orders, I'm sure after so many years, you understand.
  • I don't see the point, it's not like the grass is gonna grow much in this weather, but orders are orders.

order to view

Pronunciation: /ˌɔːdə tə ˈvjuː/
British An estate agent’s request to an occupier to allow inspection of their premises by a client.

out of order

1(Of a device) not working properly or at all: the elevator was out of order
More example sentences
  • The elevator is constantly out of order; nobody has ever tried to fix it.
  • The idea of climbing five stories of stairs made his head spin, and the elevator was out of order.
  • Mind you, my nearest proper cashpoint - at the station - has been out of order for six months.
not working, not in working order, not functioning, broken, broken-down, out of service, out of commission, acting up, unserviceable, faulty, defective, non-functional, inoperative, in disrepair;
informal conked out, bust, (gone) kaput, gone phut, on the blink, gone haywire, shot
British informal knackered, jiggered, wonky
North American informal on the fritz, out of whack
British vulgar slang buggered
2Not in the correct sequence: he recorded the seven pieces out of order
More example sentences
  • It feels like the sequence is out of order with the rest of the movie.
  • It is like being in an art gallery; the reader can read the pieces in order, out of order, any way that excites.
  • The only way I could be more intrigued with it would probably be if it had been released in bits and pieces, out of order, and left as clues all over the internet.
3Not according to the rules of a meeting, legislative assembly, etc. he ruled the objection out of order
More example sentences
  • An earlier request by his supporters for an extraordinary general meeting was ruled out of order because it had not been submitted in accordance with party rules.
  • In the past, moves to protect the environment have been ruled out of order because of trade legislation.
  • The Republicans, ruling the amendment out of order, defeated it in a party-line vote of 222-200.
3.1British informal (Of a person or their behaviour) unacceptable or wrong: Chris was well out of order
More example sentences
  • A Warminster man admitted his drunken behaviour had been out of order when he appeared before magistrates.
  • His behaviour in front of the children was out of order.
  • The referee stopped the fight early and he was out of order because I could have carried on.
unacceptable, unfair, unjust, unjustified, uncalled for, below the belt, out of turn, not done, unreasonable, unwarranted, unnecessary, wrong, beyond the pale, improper, irregular
informal not on, a bit much
British informal a bit thick, off, not cricket
Australian/New Zealand informal over the fence

to order

According to a customer’s particular requirements: the jumpers are knitted to order
More example sentences
  • Thieves have been snatching luxury cars in Bedford to order, police are warning.
  • He thinks the animals were stolen to order - but the rustlers bungled the job in the dark.
  • Rare pieces are stolen to order by gangs who use the works to launder money.


Middle English: from Old French ordre, from Latin ordo, ordin- 'row, series, rank'.

  • An early meaning of order, which comes from Latin ordo ‘row, series, rank’, was an institution founded by a ruler to honour people. The Order of the Garter, the highest order of English knighthood, was established by Edward III in around 1344. According to tradition, the garter was that of the Countess of Salisbury, which fell off while she was dancing with the king. To spare her blushes he promptly picked up the garter and put it on his own leg, saying ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (shame be to him who thinks evil of it), which was adopted as the motto of the order. Order was also used to mean a rank, such as priest or bishop, in the Christian Church, which gave us the expression take orders for someone who becomes a priest. In the 16th century out of order meant ‘not in normal sequence’. The meaning was gradually extended to mean ‘not in a settled condition’, and by the 18th century to ‘not in good health’. Finally it came to be used of machinery that was not working, or behaviour that was seen as unacceptable. The sense of the word to mean ‘a statement telling someone to do something’ is found from the 16th century. By the 18th century doctor's orders had established itself as a term for an instruction from your doctor that had to be obeyed. Charles Dickens, in a letter of January 1841, wrote that: ‘I have been obliged to make up my mind—on the doctor's orders—to stay at home this evening.’

    The Latin word ordo also gave us ordinary (Late Middle English) originally ‘orderly’, ordain (Middle English), ordinance (Middle English) ‘an authoritative order’, and ordnance (Late Middle English). In the army now ordnance refers to mounted guns or artillery, but in earlier days it was also used for the official body responsible for the supply of military equipment. In 1791 the official in charge, known as the Master-General of the Ordnance, was told to organize an official survey of the south coast of England to the scale of an inch to a mile, in anticipation of a French invasion. This grew into a series covering the whole of Great Britain and Ireland and was the origin of the Ordnance Survey, which today prepares large-scale detailed maps of the United Kingdom.

Words that rhyme with order

awarder, boarder, border, defrauder, hoarder, Korda, marauder, recorder, sordor, warder

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: order

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