con·​gre·​ga·​tion | \ ˌkäŋ-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce congregation (audio) \

Definition of congregation

1a : an assembly of persons : gathering especially : an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction
b : a religious community: such as
(1) : an organized body of believers in a particular locality The pastor delivered a lengthy sermon to the congregation.
(2) : a Roman Catholic religious institute with only simple vows a congregation of nuns
(3) : a group of monasteries forming an independent subdivision of an order
2 : the act or an instance of congregating or bringing together : the state of being congregated
3 : a body of cardinals and officials forming an administrative division of the papal curia

Synonyms for congregation


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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.

Examples of congregation in a Sentence

The priest addressed the congregation. She is a member of a small congregation.
Recent Examples on the Web Another struggling congregation, Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, is essentially living week to week. CBS News, 17 Jan. 2022 B’rith, the oldest Jewish congregation in Los Angeles, which was founded in 1862 — just a dozen years after California became a U.S. state and 14 years before the transcontinental railroad arrived in the city. Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2022 West Side was unable to stay afloat after it was acquired by a suburban pastor and members of his congregation, who pooled money to try to save the institution. Mariam Elba, ProPublica, 30 Dec. 2021 Hatch said some members of the largely Black congregation, particularly senior citizens, are skeptical of information from government. Zeke Miller, Kathleen Foody, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Dec. 2021 For example, December marks the 100th anniversary of the church’s first congregation in San Antonio, which started with 15 people. Elaine Ayala Commentary, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Dec. 2021 It’s not merely a meeting of minds but also a congregation of bodies, in a world where some bodies are valued more than others. Yangyang Cheng, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2021 There, as planned, the Conservative synagogue’s congregants met up with members of Davenport’s Reform congregation, Temple Emanuel. Dave Schechter,, 3 Nov. 2021 On Monday, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised the congregation of world leaders gathered at the COP26 summit on climate change and committed his country—the world’s third-largest polluter—to a target of net-zero emissions by 2070. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 3 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'congregation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of congregation

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

History and Etymology for congregation

see congregate entry 1

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Time Traveler for congregation

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

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Last Updated

24 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Congregation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for congregation



English Language Learners Definition of congregation

: the people who are attending a religious service
: the people who regularly attend religious services


con·​gre·​ga·​tion | \ ˌkäŋ-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce congregation (audio) \

Kids Definition of congregation

1 : an assembly of persons gathered for religious worship
2 : a gathering or collection of people or things
3 : the membership of a church or synagogue

More from Merriam-Webster on congregation

Nglish: Translation of congregation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of congregation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about congregation


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