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 religionless (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 He was previously charged with five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill. CBS News, "Hanukkah stabbing suspect pleads not guilty to federal hate crime charges," 13 Jan. 2020 Concepts like freedom of religion evolve over time (and are generally accompanied by spirited debate as to whether this particular change is real progress). The Editorial Board, Orange County Register, "Hanukkah and the light of our many freedoms," 23 Dec. 2019 Many indigenous groups there fear that giving citizenship to large numbers of immigrants would change the unique ethnic make-up of the region and their way of life, regardless of religion. Helen Regan And Swati Gupta, CNN, "India extends controls on protests after day of deadly violence," 20 Dec. 2019 Demonstrations erupted once again across India on Wednesday following a decision by the country's Supreme Court to postpone hearing challenges to a controversial new immigration law that grants citizenship on the basis of religion. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "Indian protests erupt as high court postpones hearing challenges to new immigration law," 18 Dec. 2019 This straightforward discussion of religion is far too uncommon in children’s books, which more often either ignore its existence altogether, or evangelize to the point of being off-putting. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "5 Alaska children’s books perfect for gifting this holiday season," 23 Nov. 2019 In contrast, the Polish National Alliance was open to all who believed in Polish independence, regardless of religion. Mary Wisniewski,, "'American Warsaw’ by Dominic Pacyga is an invaluable history of Chicago Polonia," 19 Nov. 2019 Career officials also expressed concerns at the time that targeting federal funds toward particular minority groups on the basis of religion could be unconstitutional. Yeganeh Torbati, ProPublica, "How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups," 6 Nov. 2019 Everyone all over the globe, if an eater of meat and released of religion, loves pork. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Get Cooking: Colombian Exchange — The pig," 23 Oct. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for religion

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Religion.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for religion


How to pronounce religion (audio)

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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Comments on religion

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