hom·​i·​ly | \ ˈhä-mə-lē How to pronounce homily (audio) \
plural homilies

Definition of homily

1 : a usually short sermon a priest delivering his homily
2 : a lecture or discourse on or of a moral theme
3 : an inspirational catchphrase also : platitude

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Synonyms for homily


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Homily Has Greek Roots

Gather around for the history of homily. The story starts with ancient Greek homilos, meaning "crowd" or "assembly." Greeks used homilos to create the verb homilein ("to consort with" or "to address"), as well as the noun homilia ("conversation"). Latin speakers borrowed homilia, then passed it on to Anglo-French. By the time it crossed into Middle English, the spelling had shifted to omelie, but by the mid-16th century the term had regained its "h" and the "y" of the modern spelling was added.

Examples of homily in a Sentence

The priest gave a brief homily on forgiveness. We had to listen to another one of his homilies about the value of public service. a politician with a fondness for homily
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Recent Examples on the Web In his homily, Listecki addressed the death of George Floyd, the unarmed African American man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25. Genevieve Redsten, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In Milwaukee, Catholic Masses reopen to the public, though city health order still bans gatherings of more than 10 people," 31 May 2020 For many, vocalized hymns, homilies, and prayers make up much of the experience of a typical religious service. Washington Post, "At Gallaudet University, deaf culture and faith mix," 28 Dec. 2019 This year, Vigneron is set to deliver the homily at the 12:15 p.m. Mass at St. Aloysius Church, 1234 Washington Blvd., and then bless and distribute the ashes. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Archdiocese of Detroit asks Catholics to post Ash Wednesday selfies," 24 Feb. 2020 Ensuring proper reverence, Mass should not be unnecessarily long; homilies should be brief. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "In-person Mass to resume, but this is not going to be 'a return to normal,' Archbishop says," 8 May 2020 The presiding judge, an elderly man in wire-rimmed glasses, came to the lectern and delivered a homily about the rights and responsibilities that awaited us. Laila Lalami, Harper's Magazine, "Bright Stars," 30 Mar. 2020 The occasional homily aside, ordinary citizens seldom expect such grace from the police. Anisha Sircar, Quartz India, "India’s coronavirus lockdown is bringing out the worst in its police force," 27 Mar. 2020 In his homily, Pizzaballa lamented the violence and deep divisions that characterize the modern Holy Land. USA TODAY, "Thousands flock to West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas," 25 Dec. 2019 Then the priest stepped down from the altar to give his homily, in Portuguese. Elizabeth Barber, The New Yorker, "A Nun’s Journey in the Amazon," 17 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'homily.' 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 homily

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for homily

Middle English omelie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin homilia, from Late Greek, from Greek, conversation, discourse, from homilein to consort with, address, from homilos crowd, assembly; akin to Greek homos same — more at same

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Time Traveler for homily

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

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Last Updated

11 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Homily.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homily. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for homily


How to pronounce homily (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of homily

: a usually short talk on a religious or moral topic
: advice that is often not wanted

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More from Merriam-Webster on homily

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Spanish Central: Translation of homily

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about homily

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