con·​gre·​ga·​tion | \ ˌkäŋ-gri-ˈgā-shən \

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

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Synonyms for congregation


assembly, church

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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.

Examples of congregation in a Sentence

The priest addressed the congregation. She is a member of a small congregation.

Recent Examples on the Web

An online tool kit lets other churches around the world set up programs in their own congregations. Marty Munson, Woman's Day, "One Woman Is Changing Lives By Bringing Health and Fitness to Church," 15 Nov. 2018 Mormons usually have tight-knit connections with other people in their congregations, bonds forged by spending worship and social time together. Brady Mccombs, Fox News, "Mormon fighting to end youth interviews summoned to hearing," 30 Aug. 2018 The cathedral has scheduled a meeting for its congregation on Wednesday, June 20, to talk about the block's future. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "A Boise church lost a bitter fight to develop this lot. Now it may build housing there," 13 June 2018 So Emerson and Brooks started slowly, their congregations worshiping together once every two months and on holidays. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Black, white Oakland churches to merge into one," 2 June 2018 According to media accounts, women so outnumber men in the pews of many U.S. churches that some clergy have changed decor, music and worship styles to try to bring more men into their congregations. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Is the World Done With Liberal Democracy?," 1 June 2018 Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, River Pointe Church unveiled the new Children’s Ministry Building to their congregation following Mother’s Day weekend services on Saturday, May 12, and Sunday, May 13. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "River Pointe Church celebrates new children’s ministry building with city officials at ribbon-cutting ceremony," 23 May 2018 One pregnant member of his small congregation, played by Amanda Seyfried, comes to him to ask for help: her husband, a radical environmentalist, wants to abort their child. Zach Baron, GQ, "Paul Schrader Isn't Done Yet," 18 May 2018 To be sure, the new church’s path is fraught with obstacles: Russia has opposed its creation, and the Ukrainian church will face a battle to attract clergymen and congregations from the Moscow Patriarchate. James Marson, WSJ, "New Ukrainian Church Marks a Victory for President, Setback for Moscow," 16 Dec. 2018

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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Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for congregation

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

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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 \

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

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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