Meaning of “pray” in the English Dictionary

"pray" in British English

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uk /preɪ/ us /preɪ/

A2 [ I or T ] to speak to a god either privately or in a religious ceremony in order to express love, admiration, or thanks or in order to ask for something:

She knelt and prayed silently.
Let us pray for the victims of this terrible disaster.
[ + that ] We've been praying to God that your son will make a complete recovery.
formal You must pray (= ask for) God's forgiveness for what you have done.

B2 [ I ] to hope for something very much:

We're praying for good weather for tomorrow's game.

More examples

  • We pray for deliverance from our sins.
  • Let us pray for those who are not so fortunate as ourselves.
  • The people all fell to their knees and began to pray.
  • We're having the party in the garden, so I'm praying it'll be sunny.
  • He knelt in front of the altar and prayed.


uk /preɪ/ us /preɪ/ old use or formal

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

"pray" in American English

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us /preɪ/

to speak to God or a god either privately or in a religious ceremony esp. to express thanks or to ask for help:

[ I ] Then the minister said, "Let us pray."
[ + (that) clause ] We often prayed (that) the war would end.

To pray also means to hope:

[ + (that) clause ] I prayed (that) she wouldn’t discover my secret.

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