re·​li·​gion | \ ri-ˈli-jən \

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 \ adjective

Synonyms for religion


credo, creed, cult, faith, persuasion

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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

Sethi’s book, which came out in July and is generating some year-end buzz, is a collection of testimonials from people who have been targeted for their race, their religion, or other aspects of their identity. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Arjun Singh Sethi's American Hate Gave Hate Crime Survivors Like Taylor Dumpson the Chance to Tell Their Own Stories," 11 Dec. 2018 By now, masterfully packing a week's worth of work outfits into a carry-on is her religion, and lightweight tech is her bread and butter. Holly Rhue, Marie Claire, "Away Founder Jen Rubio Does Her Best Work 20,000-Feet Up in the Air," 5 Dec. 2018 Maybe try a dating app that’s specific to your religion, like Christian Mingle or JSwipe. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "How to up your dating app game," 25 Oct. 2018 In Jones’s case, some of the videos that were removed violated Facebook’s rules around bullying, and included attacks on people based on their religion or gender identity, a Facebook spokesperson said. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Here’s why Facebook suspended Alex Jones but not Infowars," 28 July 2018 The View ladies know — perhaps more than anyone — that talking about politics, religion, and all other non-dinner-party topics can get personal. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Joy Behar Opens Up About Hurt Feelings and Tension on 'The View'," 10 Dec. 2018 These were people who had lived for thousands of years curating and cultivating traditions, music, religions, and entire legacies of unique and vibrant identities. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "Megyn Kelly's "Blackface" Comments Reveal a Larger Truth About Appropriation," 30 Oct. 2018 Some of their leaders may truly have believed that a perfect society would be one founded on biblical principles, while others, more cynically, embraced the use of religion to put themselves on top. Ellen Gray,, "Hulu's 'Handmaid's Tale' is the one TV show right now that refuses to be a distraction," 28 June 2018 The court decided, in a 7-2 vote, that Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s conduct in evaluating Phillips’ reasoning for not making the wedding cake violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion. Abby Vesoulis, Time, "Justice Sotomayor Criticized Her Colleagues for a Double Standard on Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Travel Ban," 26 June 2018

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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Statistics for religion

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for religion

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

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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

: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group


re·​li·​gion | \ ri-ˈli-jən \

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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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

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