1 of 2

noun (1)

tem·​ple ˈtem-pəl How to pronounce temple (audio)
: a building for religious practice: such as
often capitalized : either of two successive national sanctuaries in ancient Jerusalem
: a building for Mormon sacred ordinances
: the house of worship of Reform and some Conservative Jewish congregations
: a local lodge of any of various fraternal orders
also : the building housing it
: a place devoted to a special purpose
a temple of cuisine
templed adjective


2 of 2

noun (2)

: the flattened space on each side of the forehead of some mammals including humans
: one of the side supports of a pair of glasses jointed to the bows and passing on each side of the head

Examples of temple in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Her group has 22 lecturers and 160 volunteers teaching anti-disinformation tactics at universities, temples, fishing villages and elsewhere in Taiwan, sometimes using gifts like handmade soap to motivate participants. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, 26 Nov. 2023 Presently managed as a national historical park, Ocmulgee is home to large earthen mounds, including temple complexes, created by numerous Native American peoples over thousands of years. Travel + Leisure Editors, Travel + Leisure, 16 Nov. 2023 The most detailed depictions of Punt come from a mortuary temple in Deir el-Bahari dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut, the first female ruler to declare themselves pharaoh. Miriam Fauzia, Ars Technica, 11 Nov. 2023 Other highlights include exclusive, private access to the research and conservation laboratories at Underwater Archaeology Museum and exploring the archaeological park in Ephesus, formerly a part of ancient Greece and where the temple of Hadrian remains. Jillian Dara, Robb Report, 31 Oct. 2023 Subtle nods to the Dead abound, from the row of dancing skeletons etched into the inside of the arms, to the instantly recognizable Grateful Dead logo on the temples. Tim Chan, Variety, 19 Oct. 2023 In January, state authorities moved hundreds of people to temporary shelters after a temple collapsed and cracks appeared in over 600 houses because of the sinking of land in and around Joshimath town in the region, the AP reported. Saurabh Sharma, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Nov. 2023 Many temples open their doors on New Year’s Eve to ring the bells 108 times (eight times to bid farewell to the old and 100 times to welcome the new) and remain open until the morning to allow people to visit and pray. Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, 8 Nov. 2023 This year, for instance, researchers found a temple for the god Amun amongst Heracleion's remnants, replete with gold trinkets and other treasures. Joshua Learn, Discover Magazine, 2 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'temple.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, in part going back to Old English tempel, templ, in part borrowed from Anglo-French temple, both borrowed from Latin templum "space of sky or land delimited orally by an augur, piece of ground used for taking auspices, sacred precinct, building consecrated to a deity," of uncertain origin

Note: Latin templum has been traditionally derived from the Indo-European verbal base tem- "cut" (see tome), on the assumption that the original templum was a space "cut out" by the augur; the suffix would presumably be -lo-, with the -p- secondary. Greek témenos "sacred precinct" has been compared. More recently templum as been associated with a putative *temp- "stretch, extend," assuming a further sense "measure" (see tempo); the templum would then be a space "measured" by an augur.

Noun (2)

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Vulgar Latin *tempula, altered (with conformation to the suffix -ula) from Latin tempora, plural (taken as feminine singular) of tempus "side of the forehead, temple," of uncertain origin

Note: On the assumption that Latin tempor-, tempus "time" meant originally "stretch, extent" (see tempo) tempus "temple" has been taken as a semantic bifurcation of the same word, the temple of the head being the place where the skin is stretched tightly against the skull. Compare Old Norse þunn-vangi, Old High German dunnwangi "temple," literally, "thin-cheek."

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of temple was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near temple

Cite this Entry

“Temple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temple. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tem·​ple ˈtem-pəl How to pronounce temple (audio)
: a building for worship


2 of 2 noun
: the flattened space on each side of the forehead of some mammals including human beings

Medical Definition


tem·​ple ˈtem-pəl How to pronounce temple (audio)
: the flattened space on each side of the forehead of some mammals (as humans)
: one of the side supports of a pair of glasses jointed to the bows and passing on each side of the head

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Tem·​ple ˈtem-pəl How to pronounce Temple (audio)
city in northeast central Texas south-southwest of Waco population 66,102

Biographical Definition

Temple 1 of 4

biographical name (1)

Tem·​ple ˈtem-pəl How to pronounce Temple (audio)
Frederick 1821–1902 archbishop of Canterbury (1896–1902)


2 of 4

biographical name (2)

Shirley 1928–2014 Shirley Temple Black American actress and diplomat


3 of 4

biographical name (3)

Sir William 1628–1699 British statesman


4 of 4

biographical name (4)

William 1881–1944 son of Frederick Temple archbishop of Canterbury (1942–44)

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