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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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

Earlier, dozens of mourners gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis to pay tribute to congregation member Wendi Winters and the other victims. CBS News, "People honor five slain in newsroom attack in strikingly silent march," 30 June 2018 The remaining 214 cameras will be set up on congregation members' homes, according to Lagarde. Marie Simoneaux,, "'We can't accept this': Faith, business leaders form 'holistic' initiative against crime," 30 May 2018 The church later produced receipts to show that all of the cash had come from congregation members. Neena Satija, star-telegram, "The government took $41,000 from this Texan at a Houston airport six months ago. They never gave it back. | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 9 May 2018 Meyaard-Schaap says his group has the ear of many elders, because of the legitimate fear that younger congregation members will leave their churches to find more progressive evangelical denominations. NBC News, "Climate change schism: Evangelical Christians divided on human role in global warming," 22 Apr. 2018 The man, later identified as Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. of Ohio, fired his gun, hitting Alberta King, church deacon Edward Boykin and congregation member Jimmie Mitchell. Leada Gore,, "6 years after MLK assassination, his mother was gunned down, too," 4 Apr. 2018 Glickman, who leads the Temple Beth Hillel in South Windsor, said despite parallels to the Jewish people’s history of bloody persecution, few members of his congregation are paying notice to the Rohingya. Matthew Ormseth,, "South Windsor Doctors, Rabbi, Will Head To Bangladeshi Refugee Camps," 11 Mar. 2018 This night was also time for congregation members to gather for the weekly meal in Rector Hall, named after the church’s second pastor, John Rector Sr. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio’s Antioch church showcases work of artists in its congregation," 5 Mar. 2018 In a letter to congregation members, Archbishop John Nienstadt explained why bankruptcy was necessary for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "Catholic sex abuse in Northwest isn’t new. Diocese bankruptcies started here. | Idaho Statesman," 26 Feb. 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

6 Nov 2018

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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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