v. prayed, pray·ing, prays
To utter or address a prayer or prayers to a deity or an object of worship, often as an entreaty: people praying in the pews of the church; people praying for divine guidance; people praying for their loved ones.
1. To use prayer to request (that something may happen): The congregation prayed that the drought would end soon. The child prayed to be more considerate of others.
2. To say (a prayer or group of prayers): pray the rosary.
3. To make a devout or earnest request for: I pray your forgiveness.
4. To utter or say a prayer or prayers to; address by prayer: "I pray Heaven that I never may forget the dear girl" (Charles Dickens).
5. Archaic To ask (someone) imploringly for something; beseech. Used chiefly in the phrase I pray you to introduce a polite or urgent request or question: I pray you be careful.
Used to make a polite or urgent request or question: Pray don't apologize.
[Middle English preien, from Old French preier, from Latin precārī, from precēs, pl. of *prex, prayer; see prek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.