prayer 1 (prâr)
a. A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship.
b. The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship: belief in the power of prayer.
2. An act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thanksgiving: One evening a week, the family would join together in prayer.
3. A specially worded form used to address God, a god, or another object of worship.
4. prayers A religious observance in which praying predominates: morning prayers.
a. A fervent request: Her prayer for rain was granted at last.
b. The thing requested: His safe arrival was their only prayer.
6. The slightest chance or hope: In a storm the mountain climbers won't have a prayer.
a. The request for relief by a party initiating a lawsuit, stated in the pleadings.
b. The portion of the pleadings that contains this request.
[Middle English preiere, from Old French, from Medieval Latin precāria, from feminine of Latin precārius, obtained by entreaty, from precārī, to entreat; see PRAY.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 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.