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 The Himalayan valuation could start to make sense if the cryptoeconomy continues to thrive and if conventional exchanges do not get religion—admittedly two big ifs. The Economist, "Squaring the coin Coinbase’s listing may break records," 10 Apr. 2021 The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, religion and the press. Jonathan Garber, Fox News, "Chicagoland prep school Loyola may have violated civil rights of conservative students, Army vet," 9 Apr. 2021 Consider the court’s recent decisions at the intersection of the Covid-19 pandemic and religion. Katherine Stewart, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court’s Religious Persecution Complex," 9 Apr. 2021 Ankara has offered asylum to Uyghurs from China, who speak a Turkic language and are of the same religion as many Turks, since the 1950s. Melissa Chan, The Atlantic, "Uyghur Women Aren’t Safe No Matter Where They Go," 8 Apr. 2021 In other words, religion must conform to, not challenge, the secular ethos. Joseph D’hippolito, WSJ, "Berlin’s New Church of Nothing," 8 Apr. 2021 Yet the religion of wokeness assumes that these high priests deserve exemptions. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Wealthy and Woke," 8 Apr. 2021 For Yoo, rigid religion and racial hatred had become entwined in one of the nation’s worst mass shootings since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged last year. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: California sets a reopening date," 7 Apr. 2021 The Empty Man is a film about, among other things, repetition — largely in relation to ritual, belief, and religion. Tres Dean, Vulture, "The Empty Man Is the Next Great Cult Horror Film," 6 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for religion

Last Updated

13 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Religion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 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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