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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from religion

religionless \ ri-​ˈli-​jən-​ləs How to pronounce religion (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for religion


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Pike, the granddaughter of Wendsler Nosie, head of the group Apache Stronghold and the plaintiff in the case, said Oak Flat is a direct connection to the Apache religion. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Emotional court hearing follows vigil by Oak Flat supporters who oppose copper mine," 5 Feb. 2021 Though residents do not have to subscribe to a particular religion, a spiritual element among them is common. Linda Laban,, "That pretty pink house on Martha’s Vineyard has hit the market," 31 Jan. 2021 Looking back on the play, Niles saw Dhue-Reid get the pass away turned to religion. Mick Mccabe, Detroit Free Press, "How West Bloomfield football finally exacted revenge on Belleville to make state finals," 16 Jan. 2021 In fact, our modern Western understanding of market competition as the key to economic progress owes a great deal to religion—specifically, the new ideas that emerged in the English-speaking Protestant world in the late 17th and the 18th century. Benjamin M. Friedman, WSJ, "How Religion Shaped Modern Economics," 14 Jan. 2021 Black says that working on D&D was like attempting to make changes to a fundamentalist religion. Matthew Gault, Wired, "Dungeons, Dragons, and Diversity," 31 Dec. 2020 Millennials are slower to marry, less likely to belong to organized religion, less inclined to join civic clubs, than previous generations—leaving the employer as their main formal connection to society. David Meyer, Fortune, "How the business world has changed in the last few decades," 7 Dec. 2020 Feucht, a musician, author, preacher and activist, apparently believes coronavirus restrictions represent an existential threat to organized religion. Keith Spera,, "Spera: Sean Feucht, Lauren Daigle preached irresponsibility at French Quarter worship event," 10 Nov. 2020 Toward the end of the show’s run, Mr. Ball, unhappy about his bad habits (drinking, womanizing and a propensity toward violence, the press said), turned to religion. New York Times, "Bobby Ball, Half of a Hit British Comedy Duo, Dies at 76," 3 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about religion

Time Traveler for religion

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for religion

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Religion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!