from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural An announcement, especially in a church, of an intended marriage.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • The proclamation of intended marriage in order that those who know of any impediment thereto may state it to the proper authorities.
  • The proclamation or prologue of a play.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun plural Notice of a proposed marriage, proclaimed in a church, or other place prescribed by law, in order that any person may object, if he knows of just cause why the marriage should not take place.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The announcement of a forthcoming marriage (legally required for a church wedding in England and Wales and read on the three Sundays preceding the marriage).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a public announcement of a proposed marriage


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English banes, pl. of ban, proclamation, from Old English gebann and from Old French ban (of Germanic origin; see bhā- in Indo-European roots).]


  • So Little John clambered awkwardly into the quire, his short gown fluttering gaily; and he called the banns for the marriage of the maid and Allan-a-Dale once, twice, and thrice.

    Robin Hood

  • 'I called their banns, and in due time married them.

    News from the Duchy

  • So saying, he called the banns; and, says the old ballad, lest three times should not be enough, he published them nine times o'er.

    The Adventures of Robin Hood

  • They were required to be published in three consecutive weeks prior to the marriage in the parish in which the groom resided and also that in which the bride resided, and both bride and groom were advised to reside at least fifteen days in their respective parishes before the banns were announced.

    The Wedding | Edwardian Promenade

  • So, darling boy, do make up your mind to like the match, for I've already ordered the vicar to call the banns and sent the announcement to the Times.

    Hero Come Back

  • Lay one hand on that rosy flesh again, and they'd be calling the banns by next month.

    Dragonfly in Amber

  • Now, you will laugh when I tell you positively, that within a twelvemonth I have heard called the banns of "John Smasher and Mary Smallbones;" no doubt, by this time they are "marrow bones and cleaver," what else could be expected?

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine — Volume 54, No. 337, November, 1843

  • As sure as I am Ole Nordistuen of the Hill Farms, I tell you the minister shall sooner call the banns for the fairy folk up on the Nordal forest than he shall speak such names from the pulpit as Marit’s and yours, you jackanapes!

    Chapter X

  • Had this been at the beginning of the courtship, he would have withdrawn, perhaps, but now the banns were already published and the wedding day fixed, and in his home they had begun repairing and rebuilding.

    The Girl from the Marsh Croft

  • Then she went and put up some things called banns, I believe.

    The Green Carnation


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  • From p. 15 of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: "Of course I knew what they were referring to, but I wasn't even vaguely engaged. The fact that gossip had published the banns was one of the reasons I had come East."

    September 29, 2012