con·​gre·​ga·​tion ˌkäŋ-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce congregation (audio)
: an assembly of persons : gathering
especially : an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction
: a religious community: such as
: an organized body of believers in a particular locality
The pastor delivered a lengthy sermon to the congregation.
: a Roman Catholic religious institute with only simple vows
a congregation of nuns
: a group of monasteries forming an independent subdivision of an order
: the act or an instance of congregating or bringing together : the state of being congregated
: a body of cardinals and officials forming an administrative division of the papal curia

Did you know?

The verb congregate may be used for spontaneous gatherings. A crowd quickly congregates at the scene of an accident, for example, just as cows, sheep, or horses tend to congregate during a storm. And under military rule, citizens are often forbidden to congregate on street corners or anywhere else. But a congregation is generally a group that has gathered for a formal purpose, usually in church. The Congregational Church was originally the church of the Puritan settlers, in which each congregation governed its own church independent of any higher authority.

Example Sentences

The priest addressed the congregation. She is a member of a small congregation.
Recent Examples on the Web At Charles's coronation, no additional seating was constructed, and just around 2,000 people were in the congregation. Town & Country, 12 May 2023 Since the pandemic ended, the long-simmering split regained momentum and large numbers of congregations began voting to leave the denomination last year. Greg Garrison | , al, 7 May 2023 Welby led the congregation in saying the Lord’s Prayer, and the choir sang as the royal couple were presented with bread and wine. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, 6 May 2023 The massacre happened during morning services The bloodshed took place October 27, 2018, as three congregations were holding Saturday Shabbat services at the Tree of Life. Holly Yan, CNN, 27 Apr. 2023 Black church congregations folded bills hidden inside envelopes and sent the money to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, to the NAACP, to CORE. Wil Haygood, Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2023 In late 1995, four Episcopal congregations — St. James, St. Johns and St. Andrew’s in Hollywood and St. Anne’s in Hallandale Beach — formed the Jubilee Center of South Broward Inc. in order to expand services to the poor and homeless. Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel, 1 Apr. 2023 He was joined by his son, Jose, 26, a Special Olympics athlete, and his wife, Cynthia, while fellow members of their Faithwalk Harvest Center congregation cheered them on outside the East Dundee Public Works Building. Mike Danahey, Chicago Tribune, 7 Mar. 2023 In order to disaffiliate, local congregations must first reach a two-thirds majority vote in favor of leaving before being approved by their annual conference, or its regional governing body. Isabella Volmert, Dallas News, 7 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'congregation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see congregate entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of congregation was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near congregation

Cite this Entry

“Congregation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​gre·​ga·​tion ˌkäŋ-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce congregation (audio)
: a gathering or collection of persons or things
: an assembly of persons gathered especially for religious worship
: the members of a church or synagogue

More from Merriam-Webster on congregation

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