• Church


    • RP IPA: /t͡ʃɜːt͡ʃ/
    • GenAm IPA: /t͡ʃɝt͡ʃ/
    • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)tʃ

    Alternative forms


    From Middle English chirche, from Old English ċiriċe ("church"), from Proto-Germanic *kirikǭ, an early borrowing of Ancient Greek κυριακόν, neuter form of κυριακός (kuriakos, "belonging to the lord"), from κύριος (kurios, "ruler, lord"), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱēw-, *ḱwā- ("to swell, spread out, be strong, prevail").

    additional etymological information For vowel evolution, see bury. Greek κυριακόν was used of houses of Christian worship since circa 300 AD, especially in the East, though it was less common in this sense than ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia, "congregation") or βασιλική (basilikē, "royal thing"). An example of the direct Greek-to-Germanic progress of many Christian words, via the Goths; it was probably used by West Germanic people in their pre-Christian period. Cognate with Scots kirk ("church"), West Frisian tsjerke ("church"), Saterland Frisian Säärke ("church"), Dutch kerk ("church"), German Kirche ("church"), Danish kirke ("church"), Swedish kyrka ("church"), Norwegian kirke, kyrkje ("church"), and Icelandic kirkja ("church"). Also picked up by Slavic, via Old High German chirihha (compare Old Church Slavonic црькꙑ, Bulgarian църква, Russian церковь). and languages use variants of Latin ecclesia.



    (countable and uncountable; plural churchs)
    1. (countable) A Christian house of worship; a building where 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, 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. 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, Many young people find their only role models of family life in church.
      • 2007, John R. Dodd, Bucky and Friends, 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 ..., As they actively get involved in ministry, lay ministry becomes vigorous, and new believers will settle in church with more ease.
      • 2009, Christian Smith, Souls in Transition, she had very many adults in church with whom she could talk about issues in life.
    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 ..., 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, 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, the learned women will be qualified to lead in church with equal grace and equal insight and equal gifts.
    6. A (non-Christian) religion; a religious group. from 16th c.
      • 2007, Scott A. Merriman, Religion and the Law in America, page 313Among these, the church must investigate fundemental questions, ...
    7. She goes to a Wiccan church down the road.

    Usage notes

    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.



    Full definition of church


    1. (transitive, now historical) To conduct a religious service for (a woman) after childbirth. from 15th c.
      • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book XI:Than, aftir the lady was delyverde and churched, there cam a knyght unto her ....
      • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society 2012, page 36:Nor did it Church accept that the woman should stay indoors until she had been churched.
    2. (transitive) To educate someone religiously, as in in a church.

    Derived terms

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