From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Church


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English chirche, from Old English ċiriċe (church), from Proto-West Germanic *kirikā, an early borrowing of Ancient Greek κυριακόν (kuriakón), neuter form of κυριακός (kuriakós, belonging to the lord), from κύριος (kúrios, ruler, lord), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱewh₁- (to swell, spread out, be strong, prevail).



A church, with many architectural features traditional to such a structure.

church (countable and uncountable, plural churches)

  1. (countable) A Christian house of worship; a building where Christian religious services take place. [from 9th c.]
    There is a lovely little church in the valley.
    This building used to be a church before being converted into a library.
    • 2007, John R. Dodd, Bucky and Friends, page 117:
      He got the message and was in church the next Sunday. We need to stay in church with the fellowship of others in order to keep the fire of faith burning brightly.
  2. Christians collectively seen as a single spiritual community; Christianity; Christendom. [from 9th c.]
    These worshippers make up the Church of Christ.
    • Acts 20:28, New International Version:
      Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
  3. (countable) A local group of people who follow the same Christian religious beliefs, local or general. [from 9th c.]
    • 2007, Bill Gibson, The Ultimate Church Sound Operator's Handbook, page 78:
      Many young people find their only role models of family life in church.
    • 2007, John R. Dodd, Bucky and Friends, page 117:
      He got the message and was in church the next Sunday. We need to stay in church with the fellowship of others in order to keep the fire of faith burning brightly.
    • 2008, Yil Gyoung Kang, Enhancing understanding the church through preaching on ..., page 61:
      As they actively get involved in ministry, lay ministry becomes vigorous, and new believers will settle in church with more ease.
    • 2009, Christian Smith with Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition, page 194:
      she had very many adults in church with whom she could talk about issues in life.
    • 2004, Bev Marshall, Right as Rain[1], Ballantine Books, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 130:
      Ruthie had left the church disappointed , reluctant to give up the idea that she was chosen by God to become a saint . But within a month she had sinned by lying , masturbating , and coveting Sarah 130 • Beu Marshall.
  4. (countable) A particular denomination of Christianity. [from 9th c.]
    The Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534.
  5. (uncountable, countable, as bare noun) Christian worship held at a church; service. [from 10th c.]
    • 1997, Paul Harvey, Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities ..., page 119:
      Pastors complained that they were not allowed enough authority in church, with women exercising too much informal control.
    • 2000, Lee Roberson, Disturbing Questions...: Solid Answers, page 174:
      Some people are always saying, "Oh, you have too much church." You never get too much church. I go to church every day.
    • 2003, George Shillington, On a Journey with God: You Come Too, page 53:
      the learned women will be qualified to lead in church with equal grace and equal insight and equal gifts.
  6. (uncountable) Organized religion in general or a specific religion considered as a political institution.
    Many constitutions enshrine the separation of church and state.
    • 1903, Duncan Black MacDonald, Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory, page 4:
      But in Muslim countries, Church and State are one indissolubly, and until the very essence of Islam passes away, that unity cannot be relaxed. The law of the land, too, is, in theory, the law of the Church.
    • 1991, Cyril E. Black et al., The Modernization of Inner Asia[2], page 15:
      Because the pan-Buddhist movement was heavily supported by the Japanese in Inner Mongolia, the Buddhist church, already under attack by Soviet-backed antireligion campaigns in Outer Mongolia, was further damaged []
    • 2001, Ayelet Shachar, Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights[3], page 72:
      The secular absolutist model is based on a strict separation between church and state.
  7. (informal) Any religious group. [from 16th c.]
    She goes to a Wiccan church down the road.
    • 2007, Scott A. Merriman, Religion and the Law in America[4], page 313:
      Among these, the church must investigate fundemental questions, []
  8. (obsolete) Assembly.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Several senses of church are routinely used in prepositional phrases as a bare noun, without a determiner or article. This is like home and unlike house.
  • (organized religion): Often capitalized as "(the) Church" without referring to a specific formal institution with that title.




See also Thesaurus:church

Proper noun hyponyms of church
Other hyponyms of church

Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • Hindi: चर्च (carc)
  • Limburgish: sjoeëtsj, sjuutsj
  • Pijin: sios
  • Tok Pisin: sios


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


church (third-person singular simple present churches, present participle churching, simple past and past participle churched)

  1. (transitive, Christianity, now historical) To conduct a religious service for (a woman after childbirth, or a newly married couple). [from 15th c.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “Tercium”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XI:
      Thenne after this lady was delyuerd and chirched / there came a knyghte vnto her / his name was sire Bromel la pleche / the whiche was a grete lord and he hadde loued that lady longe / and he euermore desyred her to wedde her / and soo by no meane she coude putte hym of
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society, published 2012, page 36:
      Nor did it [the Church] accept that the woman should stay indoors until she had been churched.
  2. (transitive) To educate someone religiously, as in in a church.




  1. (slang) Expressing strong agreement.
    Synonym: preach
    - These burritos are the best!
    - Church!

See also[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of chirche