Word of the Day : April 7, 2011


noun kun-VEN-tih-kul


1 : an assembly of an irregular or unlawful character

2 : an assembly for religious worship; especially : a meeting for worship not sanctioned by law

3 : meetinghouse

Did You Know?

"Conventicle" comes to us from Latin "conventiculum" and ultimately from "convenire," meaning "to assemble." "Conventiculum" means "place of assembly" (it was applied in particular to Roman Christian meetinghouses) or simply "assembly." The English "conventicle" also originally meant "assembly." It then developed an application to illegal meetings, which, in turn, led to the arrival of a sense describing secret meetings for worship in a religion proscribed by law. And finally, "conventicle" developed a sense of "meetinghouse," echoing the earlier use of "conventiculum."


In 18th-century England, it was a capital offense to preach in any conventicle.

"The radicals tended to meet in small conventicles, sometimes in houses and farmsteads but also in cellars, gates, wayside shelters, clearings, water towers, forests, meadows, or 'windstill zones,' border areas where jurisdiction was contested." -- From C. Scott Dixon's 2010 book Protestants: A History from Wittenberg to Pennsylvania 1517-1740

Word Family Quiz

Which of the following is not a relative of "conventicle": "convene," "convenient," "convent," "convention," "cove," "coven," or "covenant"? The answer is ...


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