re·li·gion | \ ri-ˈli-jən \

Definition of religion 

1a : the state of a religious a nun in her 20th year of religion

b(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural

(2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness

4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

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Other words from religion

religionless \ri-ˈli-jən-ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for religion


devotion, faith, piety


atheism, godlessness

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Examples of religion in a Sentence

Many people turn to religion for comfort in a time of crisis. There are many religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Shinto is a religion that is unique to Japan. Hockey is a religion in Canada. Politics are a religion to him. Where I live, high school football is religion. Food is religion in this house.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Many of these cases hinge on what’s called public accommodations laws, which differ from state to state in their size and scope and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, ethnicity or religion. Jennifer Calfas, Time, "Why Businesses Can Deny You Service for Some Reasons — And Not Others," 25 June 2018 Before joining The Times, Kaleem was the senior religion reporter at HuffPost for five years. Jaweed Kaleem,, "'Freedom city'? Going beyond 'sanctuary,' Austin, Texas, vows to curtail arrests," 19 June 2018 Except for religion classes, those schools for the most part use books that come from mainstream publishing houses like Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Hal Heiner will take over Kentucky schools and bring vouchers with him," 7 June 2018 On winning independence in 1943, Lebanon’s leaders agreed to divvy up political power among the country’s religions. The Economist, "Lebanon’s political system leads to paralysis and corruption," 19 Apr. 2018 The Crusade Against Birth Control Begins This is also about the time when the U.S. government hopped on the anti-birth-control bandwagon that most of the monotheistic religions had been riding since the start of the modern period, Gordon says. Carolyn Todd, Allure, "The History and Evolution of Birth Control in America," 12 July 2018 To the casual drinker, the idea of transmuting religion or social science into cocktails may verge on the absurd. Elizabeth G. Dunn, WSJ, "My Cocktail’s Smarter Than Yours: A Guide to the World’s Brainiest Bar Menus," 12 July 2018 Russian troll farms created fake social media accounts and websites to try to sow dissent among Americans on divisive issues such as race, gay rights, gun control, and religion. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "Russia so far not mounting 'robust' hacking effort against U.S. election, official says," 11 July 2018 Winkfield refused to accept the California doctors’ conclusion and took her daughter to New Jersey, a state that accommodates religions that don’t recognize brain death. NBC News, "'They are not God': Mother of girl declared dead twice criticizes doctors," 9 July 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for religion

Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at rely

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Phrases Related to religion

freedom of religion

organized religion

Statistics for religion

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for religion

The first known use of religion was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for religion



English Language Learners Definition of religion

: the belief in a god or in a group of gods

: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods

: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group


re·li·gion | \ ri-ˈli-jən \

Kids Definition of religion

1 : the belief in and worship of God or gods

2 : a system of religious beliefs and practices

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Comments on religion

What made you want to look up religion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an open space surrounded by woods

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