Meaning of “order” in the English Dictionary

"order" in English

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uk /ˈɔː.dər/ us /ˈɔːr.dɚ/

order noun (REQUEST)

A2 [ C ] a request to make, supply, or deliver food or goods:

"Can I take your order now?" said the waiter.
I would like to place (= make) an order for a large pine table.

[ C ] a product or a meal that has been asked for by a customer:

I got an email saying that the order has been shipped.
be on order

If something is on order, you have asked for it but have not yet received it:

The new drilling equipment has been on order for several weeks.
do/make sth to order

to do or make something especially for a person who has asked for it:

We make wedding cakes to order.

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order noun (ARRANGEMENT)

B1 [ U ] the way in which people or things are arranged, either in relation to one another or according to a particular characteristic:

The children lined up in order of age/height.
I can't find the file I need because they're all out of order (= they are no longer arranged in the correct way).
Put the files in alphabetical/chronological order.
mainly UK Here's the running order for the concert (= the order in which each item will happen).

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order noun (INSTRUCTION)

B2 [ C often plural ] something that someone tells you you must do:

The soldiers fired as soon as their commander gave the order.
Soldiers must obey orders.
What are your orders?
My orders are to search everyone's bag as they come in.
The road was closed all day by order of the police.
Clean up this room immediately - and that's an order!
be under orders

to have been told that you must do something by someone in authority:

We are under orders not to allow anyone into the building.

[ C ] an official instruction telling someone what they can or cannot do, or a written instruction to a bank to pay money to a particular person

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order noun (PURPOSE)

in order (for sb/sth) to do sth also in order that sth

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B1 with the aim of achieving something:

He came home early in order to see the kids before they went to bed.
I agreed to her suggestion in order not to upset her.

order noun (TIDY)

B2 [ U ] a situation in which everything is arranged in its correct place:

The house was such a mess that she spent the whole day trying to establish some kind of order.
leave/put sth in order

to organize something well:

I try to leave my desk in order when I go home.
He put his affairs in order (= made arrangements for his personal and business matters) before he went into the hospital.

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order noun (STATE)

B1 [ U ] the state of working correctly or of being suitable for use:

TV for sale in (good) working order.
The coffee machine is out of order (= not working).

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C2 [ U ] a situation in which rules are obeyed and people do what they are expected to do:

The teacher found it hard to keep her class in order.
As the demonstration began to turn violent, the police were called in to restore order.
After some heated discussion, the chairperson called the meeting to order (= told everyone to stop talking so that the meeting could continue).
UK Is it in order (= allowed) for me to park my car outside the building?
order! formal

an expression used in a parliament or a formal meeting to get people's attention and make them stop talking, so that the meeting or discussion can start or continue

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order noun (TYPE)

[ U ] the type or size of something:

These were problems of a completely different order from anything we had faced before.
formal No successful business can be run without skills of the highest order (= great skills).
of the order of UK also in the order of


The cost will be something in the order of $500.

order noun (BIOLOGY)

[ C ] specialized biology (used in the classification of plants and animals) a group of related plants or animals:

An order is below a class and above a family.


uk /ˈɔː.dər/ us /ˈɔːr.dɚ/

order verb (REQUEST)

A2 [ I or T ] to ask for something to be made, supplied, or delivered, especially in a restaurant or shop:

I ordered some pasta and a mixed salad.
[ + two objects ] There are no shirts left in this size but we could order one for you/order you one.

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order verb (INSTRUCT)

B2 [ T ] If a person in authority orders someone to do something, or orders something to be done, they tell someone to do it:

The management has ordered a cutback in spending.
[ + speech ] "Wait over there," she ordered.
[ + to infinitive ] They ordered him to leave the room.

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(Definition of “order” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"order" in American English

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us /ˈɔr·dər/

order noun (INSTRUCTION)

[ C ] something you are told to do by someone else and which you must do:

His defense was that he was only obeying orders.

order noun (ARRANGEMENT)

[ U ] the way in which people or things are arranged in relation to one another or according to a particular characteristic:

Please arrange the books in alphabetical order by author.
I can’t find the files I need because they’re all out of order (= they are not arranged in the correct way).

[ U ] If you leave/put things in order, you make them neat:

I want to leave my desk in order before I go on vacation.


[ U ] a situation in which rules are obeyed and people do what they are expected to do:

Observers were present to preserve order during the voting.


[ U ] the state of working correctly or of being suitable for use:

The set of power tools are all in good working order.
The elevator is out of order (= not working).

order noun (SYSTEM)

[ C ] a social or political system:

a new economic order

order noun (REQUEST)

[ C ] An order is also the thing that has been requested:

The store phoned to say your order has come in.
on order

If something is on order, you have asked for it to be obtained but have not yet received it:

The lamp has been on order for several weeks.


us /ˈɔr·dər/

order verb (REQUEST)

[ I/T ] to ask for something to be made, supplied, or delivered:

[ I ] Are you ready to order, or do you need a little more time?
[ T ] I ordered some pasta and a mixed salad.
[ T ] After looking through the catalog, she called the store and ordered new sheets and towels.

order verb (INSTRUCT)

[ T ] (esp. of a person in authority) to tell someone to do something:

They ordered him to leave the room.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “order” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"order" in Business English

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uk /ˈɔːdər/ us

[ C ] COMMERCE a request from a customer for goods or services:

Recent trends suggest that orders are unlikely to be converted into sales until the second half.
We make a service and handling charge of $4 for all phone and internet orders of tickets.
Already, the US aeronautics company has accumulated its biggest-ever backlog of orders - valued at $475 million.
online/postal orders
We're encouraged by the rise in order intakes this past quarter.
a reduction in order volumes in the UK
place/put in an order (for sth) Placing orders by computer for medications ensures greater efficiency and a quicker delivery time to patients.
take/get/receive an order (for sth) The Project extended the period for taking orders for its €45 million IPO until Friday.
lose/win/cancel an order (for sth) Due to technical difficulties, the company recently lost an order for $175,000 worth of bakery equipment.
process/fill/make up an order (for sth) The time it takes to fill orders for cars has increased.
Once an order goes through, a message is sent to an inventory system on another computer.
orders are up/down Durable goods orders were up in October by 2.9 %.
orders fall/increase/rise In the past twelve months, we have seen export orders rise by 26%.

[ C ] COMMERCE the goods that a customer has ordered from a company, store, or manufacturer:

Call centres were flooded with complaints from people who had experienced problems with their orders.
deliver/send/supply an order We will notify you by email once your order has been sent.
receive/get/take delivery of an order The "Super Express" option enables customers to receive orders on the next working day.
handle/trace/monitor an order By going online, our customers can easily trace the status of their order.
In spite of the rail strike, only a handful of orders were delayed.

[ C ] LAW a statement made by a court of law or an official authority saying that something must be done:

issue/back/block an order The company was forced to stop selling insurance in May after the order which was issued by Florida's Insurance Department.
an order expires/is extended The order was scheduled to expire today but was extended at the request of US prosecutors.
an order to do sth Authorities need an order from the courts to require libraries to provide records on the borrowing of books and on the use of internet sites.

[ S or U ] ACCOUNTING, FINANCE the way in which data or information is arranged:

in alphabetical/numerical/date order Names of recent clients are listed in alphabetical order.
the order of priority/preference There are laws that control the order of priority for payments to creditors.

[ S or U ] ECONOMICS, GOVERNMENT a situation in which laws or rules relating to a particular activity exist:

The federal government needs to bring order to the complicated system of trading.
a new world/global/economic order
be in order

to be necessary :

Recent events have shown that a review of existing laws is in order.

to be legally or officially acceptable:

Check that all your documentation is in order before travelling abroad.
build/make sth to order

COMMERCE, PRODUCTION to make something for a specific customer, rather than making something in large numbers:

All our furniture is made to order.
by order of

LAW according to the orders of a judge or someone in a position of authority:

After a press scandal concerning the company's CEO, the deal was canceled by order of the state attorney general.
in ascending/descending order

data or information that is arranged in ascending order is arranged so that the smallest or least important numbers, facts, etc. are shown first; data or information that is arranged in descending order is arranged so that the largest or most important numbers, facts, etc. are shown first:

Click once and the list is sorted in ascending order; click again and it's sorted in descending order.
in good/working, etc. order

in good condition, or in good enough condition to be used:

Business owners are being urged to check that their CCTV cameras are in working order.
in the order of sth US also on the order of sth

having the approximate value stated:

The German group is capable of financing a deal in the order of €100bn.
The latest estimates of the state's unfunded pension liability are on the order of $10 billion.
keep/put sth in order

to make sure that something is done in a controlled way, or to take action in order to control something :

Huge budget cuts are inevitable in order to put public finances back in order.
on order

COMMERCE something that is on order has been asked for by a customer but has not yet been received by them:

The shipping company is the largest buyer of the new trucks, with 55 currently on order.
order of business

MEETINGS the order in which different subjects are discussed at a business meeting:

Has anyone any changes to suggest to the order of business?
Our first order of business is how to tackle the current debt crisis.
out of order

not acceptable according to a law or rule, or according to what people think is correct or suitable:

Her comments were ruled out of order by the chairperson.
The Press Complaints Commission acknowledged that newspaper coverage of the event had been completely out of order.

a machine that is out of order is not working correctly:

All our elevators are currently out of order.

documents, files, etc. that are out of order are not arranged in the correct way:

The pages I printed out were all out of order.


uk /ˈɔːdər/ us

[ I or T ] COMMERCE to ask a company, store, manufacturer, etc. to supply goods or services:

Our new service enables you to order foreign currency online.
To order your copy, visit our website or call this number.
order sth online/on the internet More and more people are ordering books and DVDs online.

[ T ] WORKPLACE, GOVERNMENT, LAW to tell someone to do something, especially when you are in a position of legal or official authority:

order sb/sth to do sth State agencies were ordered to cut all nonessential energy use.
Banks have been ordered by the Financial Services Authority to assess how they would cope in the event of house prices crashing by 40 %.
order a trial/investigation/inquiry Local governments have ordered an inquiry into radiation levels in the affected areas.
order that Alaska's attorney-general has ordered that the company retain all documents relating to financial transactions in the current fiscal year.

[ T ] to organize information or data using a particular method:

He counted and ordered the copies.
order sth alphabetically/numerically/by date Order the documents in the file by date.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “order” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)