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 religionless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for religion


credo, creed, cult, faith, persuasion

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

Handpicked to maximize the group’s propensity for conflict based on gender, race and religion, the participants acted as a microcosm of a global society. Carlos Aguilar,, "Review: Sex and conflict on the high seas revealed in documentary ‘The Raft’," 13 June 2019 The incident is not recognized as a hate crime under Virginia's current legislation, as it is not related to an individual's race, religion or national origin, according to the department. Suzanne Ciechalski, NBC News, "Woman found anti-LGBTQ sticker on her car. Police reached out to help.," 13 June 2019 His pride in his Greek heritage and religion were an integral part of his life., "George W. Sicaras," 13 June 2019 It’s of utmost importance for Youssef to help other young Muslim-Americans feel seen through his struggles with identity and religion. Rosy Cordero,, "Watch Ramy Youssef discuss 'Uncle Donald Trump' in first comedy special Feelings," 12 June 2019 In today’s Cuba, can churches and LGBTQ rights each find path forward? Cuba isn’t known for tolerating much public religion, or public dissent. Christian Science Monitor, "World | Americas," 7 June 2019 The First Amendment guarantees every student’s freedom of speech and religion. Eric Stirgus, ajc, "Georgia college campus speech court ruling flawed, group says in appeal," 26 June 2018 The centers have said the notifications violate the freedom of speech and religion. Stephanie Armour, WSJ, "Trump Administration Targets State Rules That Women Must Be Told of Abortion Services," 31 May 2018 In the past, Underwood has been very open about her relationship with religion and her tattoo collection, which explains why people are speculating that this tattoo belongs to Carrie. Rachel Lubitz,, "Did Carrie Underwood Get A New Tattoo?," 5 June 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.

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

Statistics for religion

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for religion

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

See more words from the same century

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

More from Merriam-Webster on religion

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with religion

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for religion

Spanish Central: Translation of religion

Nglish: Translation of religion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of religion for Arabic Speakers

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).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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