Common usage of Church

Various dictionaries give a multitude of definitions of church. Some of these I’ve collected here. The horizontal dividing lines denote a switch to another dictionary. Dictionary entries have been abbreviated for convenience of display, as the format is different from what we see in the respective dictionaries.

Definition of CHURCH

1: a building for public and especially Christian worship

2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body

3 often capitalized: a body or organization of religious believers: as a : the whole body of Christians b : denomination c : congregation

4: a public divine worship

5: the clerical profession

Examples of CHURCH

1. This is the oldest church in town.

2. They would like to be married in a church.

3. I didn’t see you at church last Sunday.

4. He is a member of the Catholic Church.

5. What church do you belong to?

6. The church’s attitude toward divorce

7. The separation of church and state

Origin of CHURCH

Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord, from kyrios lord, master

First Known Use: before 12th century

1. a building for public Christian worship.


2. public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.

3. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.

4. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority;
a Christian denomination: the Methodist Church.

5. that part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.  

6. a body of Christians worshipping in a particular building or constituting one congregation: She is a member of this church.

7. ecclesiastical organization, power, and affairs, as distinguished from the state: separation of church and state;
The missionary went wherever the church sent him.

8. the clergy and religious officials of a Christian denomination.

9. the Christian faith: a return of intellectuals to the church.

10. ( initial capital letter ) the Christian Church before the Reformation.

11. ( initial capital letter ) the Roman Catholic Church.

12. the clerical profession or calling: After much study and contemplation, he was prepared to enter the church.

13. a place of public worship of a non-Christian religion.

14. any non-Christian religious society, organization, or congregation: the Jewish church.

1 a: church: a building that is used for Christian religious services

▪ This is the oldest church in town.
▪ They would like to be married in a church. — often used before another noun
▪ church bells/weddings/services

b : religious services held in a church
▪ They go to church [=attend church services] every Sunday.
▪ I didn’t see you at/in church last Sunday.

2 Church : a particular Christian group
▪ He is a member of the Catholic/Baptist/Anglican Church.
▪ What church do you belong to?

3 Church : the Christian religion seen as an organization : the institution of the Christian religion
▪ the Church’s attitude toward divorce
▪ the separation of Church and state


1. church – one of the groups of Christians who have their own beliefs and forms of worship

2. church – a place for public (especially Christian) worship; “the church was empty”

3. church – a service conducted in a house of worship; “don’t be late for church”

4. church – the body of people who attend or belong to a particular local church; “our church is hosting a picnic next week”


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