To apply ceremonial oil to the head or body, often in conjunction with priesthood ordinances and the blessing of the sick. The practice of blessing the sick included anointing with oil and laying hands on the sick person. Ritual washings and anointings were administered to church leaders beginning in January 1836 in preparation for the dedication of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio. In May 1842, Joseph Smith administered washings and anointings as part of a new temple-related ordinance called the endowment [JS History, 4 May 1842]. In January 1844, Smith taught that anointings, like baptisms, could be performed vicariously for deceased family members and associates [JS History, 21 Jan. 1844]. In the Nauvoo temple, many more church members were able to receive the endowment, including washings and anointings. The term was also sometimes used to refer to prophets or others chosen by God for a position or responsibility.
Retrieved with permission from The Joseph Smith Papers.