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


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

Arriving in Newport on August 17, 1790, Washington listened to the town’s notables offer greetings, among them a representative from Yeshuat Israel, Newport’s Hebrew congregation. Sam Wineburg, Smithsonian, "What George Washington’s Views on Religion and America Don’t Translate Well to Today’s Politics," 12 June 2019 The banners offer a window into the fraught efforts by the mostly white congregation to broadcast calls for racial equality. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "’Black Lives Matter’ banners cost a California church its polling place. Now, it’s suing.," 11 June 2019 Among those who took part in the massive protest three days later were political parties, student groups and church congregations. The Economist, "China seems deaf to mass protests in Hong Kong over extradition," 10 June 2019 Pieroni told the congregation at St. Raymond’s Roman Catholic Church. USA TODAY, "Painting over history, saving cats’ claws, angry birds: News from around our 50 states," 5 June 2019 The resources of some of the local churches, many of them small Hispanic churches made up of low-income congregations, have become increasingly strained after months of providing shelter, food, clothing and other humanitarian assistance. Daniel González, azcentral, "Closed school in Phoenix may be used as a shelter for migrant families released by ICE," 4 June 2019 If your church does not offer its own sunrise service, check with local congregations or on Google for a nearby service. Morin Bishop, Woman's Day, "What’s an Easter Sunrise Service? Here's Everything You Need to Know," 22 Mar. 2019 Non-Muslims, many of them members of Christian congregations, are in attendance, laying flowers, joining in prayer, forming cordons and honor guards to symbolize their desire to protect their fellow worshipers from harm. Michael Bradley, National Geographic, "‘This isn’t us? Oh but it is.’ New Zealand grapples with its history," 19 Mar. 2019 During Sunday services, Meredith told the congregation that his church office and study had been burglarized in late April. Mark Curnutte,, "Hate crime? Activist gay minister's seminary diploma stolen from his church," 7 May 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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Statistics for congregation

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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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Comments on congregation

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