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

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Synonyms for congregation


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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 The gallery is now the congregation and the stand now becomes the pulpit. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, "Steve McQueen’s ‘Small Axe’ delves into injustice of 1970 court case with ‘Mangrove’," 5 Jan. 2021 Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Hill family, walked the congregation at Tuesday's memorial service through Hill's final moments. Bethany Bruner, USA TODAY, "Andre Hill, Black man killed by Ohio police, remembered at memorial service; Rev. Al Sharpton among speakers," 5 Jan. 2021 The congregation established a presence in America and New York in the mid-1800s. Mihir Zaveri, New York Times, "9 Sisters at Upstate Convent Die as Outbreak Infects 47," 3 Jan. 2021 That’s more than usually attend in-person services at the 111-member congregation. Larry Luxner,, "For West Virginia’s few Jews, the pandemic has offered silver linings," 30 Dec. 2020 The congregation skews older, and many members hardly use email. Ian Lovett, WSJ, "Rural Pastors Tend to Flocks Divided and Isolated by Covid-19," 30 Dec. 2020 As the congregation grew, the church moved to a tavern and later a warehouse. Vincent T. Davis,, "Church Under the Bridge serves San Antonio homeless population," 27 Dec. 2020 The model both supports fresh ideas for combating social ills as well as injects energy into the congregation, faith leaders say. Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, "'Shark Tank for Churches' is launched in Twin Cities," 24 Dec. 2020 And there was a particular portion of the congregation that was hit harder than others. NBC News, "'It's been shattering': Heartache and hope in America's Black churches," 23 Dec. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for congregation

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Congregation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce congregation (audio)

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

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