In the book Dune Messiah, I read:

"The Emperor has said I must die if I set foot on Dune," she said, making a last desperate effort. "You spoke of this yourself. You are condemning me if you take me down there."

"Say no more," the Qizara ordered. "The thing is ordained."

A common alternative is "This is an order", but here it uses the word ordain. I looked it up in the dictionary and found that they have similar meanings:

verb \ȯr-ˈdān\
Definition of ORDAIN
transitive verb
1 : to invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority
2a : to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law : enact— we the people … do ordain and establish this Constitution — United States Constitution
2b : destine, foreordain

intransitive verb : to issue an order

So, when should I use ordain instead of order?

  • Isn't your quotation an example of meaning 2b? Jul 12, 2012 at 9:16
  • Why hasn't the answer been accepted? Also, +1 to @TimLymington (but no vote because I hit the limit, after spending way too much time here today).
    – hunter2
    Jul 5, 2013 at 9:13

1 Answer 1


Anyone can issue an order, but you need a special authorization to ordain something.

The words have the same origin, but ordain has a much more official ring to it. It is most commonly used in a religious or political context.

If a religious or political figure receives a new rank in a ceremony, you will often hear that they are ordained, and the ceremony may be called ordination.

Beyond this, the difference should become clear when comparing the Merriam-Webster dictionary entries for "to order" and "to ordain".

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