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 The Druze, followers of a small esoteric religion, have taken to the streets of Suweida. The Economist, "From bad to worse Bashar al-Assad has no solutions to Syria’s crisis," 20 June 2020 Even people who didn't belong to any religion have started praying. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Science Attempts to Unravel the Psychological Benefits of Prayer," 19 June 2020 Despite its very American roots, Juneteenth is liberated from religion and has the potential to serve as an international, cross-cultural celebration of liberation. C. Brandon Ogbunu, Wired, "Why Juneteenth Went Viral," 19 June 2020 But so did some who seldom or never pray, and people who didn't belong to any religion have started praying. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "The psychological benefits of prayer: What science says about the mind-soul connection," 17 June 2020 Particularly the teenagers, anybody that’s older, a different religion or has any special needs. Eddie Morales, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Metro Market employee with special needs was tricked into buying alcohol. She told her boss — then got fired," 16 June 2020 But Temple struggles more so with the darker side of the religion itself., "'The Lightness' author Emily Temple grapples with releasing a novel "into two pandemics"," 15 June 2020 The 6-3 decision means gay and trans workers will now be protected by the same federal law that forbids discrimination on the basis of gender, religion or race. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "What today’s historic Supreme Court ruling means for LGBTQ workers, and for employers," 15 June 2020 His father, Theophilus Hornykiewicz, ministered to the village’s several dozen parishioners and taught religion; his mother, Anna Hornykiewicz, managed the affairs of the village’s 300-year-old wooden church. Sam Roberts,, "Oleh Hornykiewicz, who discovered Parkinson’s treatment, dies at 93," 14 June 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.

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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

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Religion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 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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