re·​li·​gion | \ ri-ˈli-jən How to pronounce religion (audio) \

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 How to pronounce religion (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for religion


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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 Before the shooting, the gurdwara was preparing for langar, a meal served free of charge to anyone in the community regardless of religion. NBC News, "Sikh Americans highlight historical, 'invisible' racism after Indianapolis shootings," 21 Apr. 2021 That health effect of religion appears to be tied to active participation in a church. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Barring women as leaders in church may be bad for their health, new study finds," 20 Apr. 2021 This is the latest in a series of rulings in which the justices have found pandemic regulations violate the First Amendment's protections of religion. Jordan Culver, USA TODAY, "China 'didn't do what it needed to do' to halt pandemic, US official says; 40% of Marines decline vaccine: Latest COVID-19 updates," 11 Apr. 2021 Historians of religion have noted that the British conflated another ancient fair, which went by the name Magha Mela, with the Kumbh Mela. Tulasi Srinivas, The Conversation, "India prepares for Kumbh Mela, world’s largest religious gathering, amid COVID-19 fears," 8 Apr. 2021 His practice involves allegations of police misconduct, government restrictions on the free exercise of religion, and other civil and constitutional rights violations. Peter J Reilly, Forbes, "Conservation Appraisers Strike Back At IRS With Class Action Suit," 8 Apr. 2021 That is one of the reasons why the original constitutional architecture of this country gave voters a narrowly limited say in most things and took some things — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. — off the voters’ table entirely. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Why Not Fewer Voters?," 6 Apr. 2021 Astute historians have observed that the wars of religion that seemed to define pre-Enlightenment history never really went away; the religions just got new labels. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "The C-Suite Converts to the New Political Religion," 5 Apr. 2021 In the Warren court, all of the rulings in favor of religion benefited minority or dissenting practitioners. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "An Extraordinary Winning Streak for Religion at the Supreme Court," 5 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for religion

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

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Statistics for religion

Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Religion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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


re·​li·​gion | \ ri-ˈli-jən How to pronounce religion (audio) \

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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