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

This year, things kick off on Wednesday, March 16, when churchgoers head to their local congregations to observe Ash Wednesday. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Here's How the Date of Easter Is Determined Each Year," 22 Feb. 2019 Marchaé Grair, a spokeswoman for UUA, told The Post that two-thirds of the denomination’s congregations participated in anti-white-supremacy training in 2017, and many substituted regular worship for the training. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, "Prominent progressive D.C. church, accused of racism, tries to move on," 10 July 2018 The shaggy golden-haired canine was presented her comfort dog service vest this weekend in front of the congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando during worship services. Lisa Maria Garza,, "Downtown Trinity Lutheran Church offers 'Peace' through trained Golden Retriever," 1 July 2018 Suddenly, Toller, whose congregation could fill a single pew, has found purpose and fury. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Paul Schrader wrestles with the sacred and profane in his new 'First Reformed'," 16 May 2018 Under their leadership, Mount Zion’s congregation more than tripled to 2,500. Jack Broom, The Seattle Times, "Seattle civil-rights leader Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney dies at 91," 7 Apr. 2018 From my first visit, the congregation was very welcoming and supportive. Karen Ann Cullotta,, "Shout Out: Gil Ezring, the newest cantor at Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove," 27 June 2018 Senior pastor Rick Mixon told me the congregation seemed to like the sermon. Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, "The Preacher Who Wanted to Save Silicon Valley’s Soul," 29 May 2018 The congregation voted to become a sanctuary church. Emily Bamforth,, "Tremont's Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ becomes third Northeast Ohio sanctuary church," 30 Apr. 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

10 Apr 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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