Printable Version
Pronunciation: or-dayn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To certify someone as a priest or minister or otherwise confer a holy order; to invest in a religious office. 2. To prescribe in a fixed way, unalterably predestine. 3. To authorize, decree, or order something officially.

Notes: This word connotes a holy or reverential action. The noun is ordainment, and someone who ordains is called an ordainer. The person an ordainer ordains is an ordainee (or ordinee). You may use the present participle, ordaining, as an adjective or action noun. There is a rarely used passive adjective, ordainable.

In Play: Ordain is probably used more often in a religious sense: "Hallie Louia was an ordained minister before she ran for Congress." It does have other uses though: "It is futile to resist what is ordained by fate."

Word History: Today's Good Word was based on Old French ordener "designate, order" (Modern French ordonner "organize, arrange"). It was inherited from Latin ordinare "arrange, order, regulate", a verb created from the noun ordo, ordinis "row, series, arrangement". Latin built its word from PIE ar- "to fit together" extended by a suffix -dos, which we also find in Latin ordinarius "in order, regular, ordinary". With the suffix -tos, it emerged in Latin "artus "joint" and ar(t)s "art", and German Art "way, manner". It also arose metathesized in Albanian radhä "row", Serbian rad "work", Welsh rhif "number", and German Rat "council, advice". Without metathesis but with the suffix -mos, we find it in Greek armos "seam, joint", Latin arma "arms, armor", and Russian yarmo "yoke". (Now, a word of thanks to an avid contributor in Sweden, Joakim Larsson, for suggesting today's crafty Good Word that escaped the religious vocabulary.)

Dr. Goodword,

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