from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A building for public, especially Christian worship.
  • noun The company of all Christians regarded as a spiritual body.
  • noun A specified Christian denomination.
  • noun A congregation.
  • noun Public divine worship in a church; a religious service.
  • noun The clerical profession; clergy.
  • noun Ecclesiastical power as distinguished from the secular.
  • transitive verb To conduct a church service for, especially to perform a religious service for (a woman after childbirth).
  • adjective Of or relating to the church; ecclesiastical.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In the Anglican Church, to perform with or for (any one) the office of returning thanks in the church, after any signal deliverance, as from the dangers of childbirth.
  • To accompany in attending church on some special occasion, as that on which a bride first goes to church after marriage: as, the bride was churched last Sunday; to church a newly elected town council.
  • noun An edifice or a place of assemblage specifically set apart for Christian worship.
  • noun An edifice dedicated to any other kind of religious worship; a temple.
  • noun The visible and organic body of Christian believers, especially as accepting the ecumenical creeds of Christendom and as exhibiting a historic continuity of organized life.
  • noun The invisible and inorganic community of all those who acknowledge a supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master.
  • noun A particular division of the whole body of Christians possessing the same or similar symbols of doctrine and forms of worship, and united by a common name and history; a Christian denomination: as, the Presbyterian Church; the Church of England; the Church of Rome.
  • noun The organized body of Christians belonging to the same city, diocese, province, country, or nation: as, the church at Corinth; the Syrian church; in a wider sense, a body of Christians bearing a designation derived from their geographical situation, obedience to a local see, or affiliation with a national ecclesiastical organization: as, the Eastern Church; the Western Church; the Roman Church; the Anglican Church.
  • noun A body of Christians worshiping in a particular church edifice or constituting one congregation.
  • noun The clerical profession.
  • noun Ecclesiastical authority or power, in contradistinction to the civil power, or the power of the state.
  • noun By extension, some religious body not Christian, especially the Jewish: as, the Jewish church.
  • noun [What constitutes a Christian church according to the Scriptures is a question on which Christian denominations widely differ. The three principal views may be distinguished as the Roman Catholic, the Protestant ecclesiastical, and the voluntary. According to Roman Catholic theologians, the church is a visible and organic body, divinely constituted, possessing “Unity, Visibility, Indefectibility, Succession from the Apostles, Universality, and Sanctity” (Faith of Catholics, I. 9), and united to its visible head on earth, the Bishop of Rome. According to the Anglican and Protestant ecclesiastical view, the church of Christ is “a permanent visible society” (Wordsworth on Mat. xvi. 18), divinely compacted, governed, and equipped, and having definite ends, a definite policy, and a historic continuity. (The Church Cyc.) According to the voluntary conception, a church is a society of persons professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of men, and organized in allegiance to him for Christian work and worship, including the administration of the sacraments which he has appointed. (R. W. Dale, Manual of Congr. Principles, Comp. West. Conf., xxxv.; Thirty nine Art., xix.) The second view is held by many, perhaps a majority, in the Episcopal, Lutheran, and other hierarchical denominations; the last by a majority of those in the non-hierarchical denominations, including the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Congregational.]
  • noun The cathedral, or bishop's church, in distinction from the parish churches committed to simple presbyters.
  • noun A title given to the Roman Catholic Church by its adherents.
  • Pertaining to the church; ecclesiastical: as, church politics; a church movement; church architecture.
  • Music, vocal or instrumental, in the style actually used in church services.
  • The order of public worship, especially in the Anglican Church.
  • A book containing the calendar, order of Morning and Evening Prayer, Litany, Collects, Epistles and Gospels, Communion Office, and Psalter, taken from the Book of Common Prayer, with the addition of all the Scripture Lessons.
  • See year.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A building set apart for Christian worship.
  • noun obsolete A Jewish or heathen temple.
  • noun A formally organized body of Christian believers worshiping together.
  • noun A body of Christian believers, holding the same creed, observing the same rites, and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a denomination.
  • noun The collective body of Christians.
  • noun Any body of worshipers.
  • noun The aggregate of religious influences in a community; ecclesiastical influence, authority, etc..
  • noun See under Apostolic.
  • noun See Broad Church.
  • noun the whole body of believers in Christ throughout the world.
  • noun the Episcopal church established and endowed in England by law.
  • noun a benefice in an established church.
  • noun See under Militant.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the white owl. See Barn owl.
  • noun a tax levied on parishioners for the maintenance of the church and its services.
  • noun See under Session.
  • noun See under Triumphant.
  • noun work on, or in behalf of, a church; the work of a particular church for the spread of religion.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Medieval Greek kūrikon, from Late Greek kūriakon (dōma), the Lord's (house), neuter of Greek kūriakos, of the lord, from kūrios, lord; see keuə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English chirche, from Old English ċiriċe ("church"), from Proto-Germanic *kirikōn (West Germanic *kirika), an early borrowing of Ancient Greek κυριακόν (kuriakon), 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”).


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  • "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church." - 'The Age of Reason' by Thomas Paine, 1794.

    December 11, 2007

  • I love Thomas Paine.

    December 11, 2007