Definition of church-ale

: a festival formerly held in English country parishes at which ale was sold to raise money for church expenses and relief of the poor

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of church-ale

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for church-ale

Middle English chirche ale, from chirche church + ale (festival)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about church-ale

Time Traveler for church-ale

Time Traveler

The first known use of church-ale was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for church-ale

Cite this Entry

“Church-ale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2020.

Comments on church-ale

What made you want to look up church-ale? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!