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

  • noun The belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers, regarded as creating and governing the universe.
  • noun A particular variety of such belief, especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice.
  • noun A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
  • noun The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
  • noun A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
  • idiom (get religion) To become religious or devout.
  • idiom (get religion) To resolve to end one's immoral behavior.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Recognition of and allegiance in manner of life to a superhuman power or superhuman powers, to whom allegiance and service are regarded as justly due.
  • noun The healthful development and right life of the spiritual nature, as contrasted with that of the mere intellectual and social powers.
  • noun Any system of faith in and worship of a divine Being or beings: as, the Christian religion; the religion of the Jews, Greeks, Hindus, or Mohammedans.
  • noun The rites or services of religion; the practice of sacred rites and ceremonies.
  • noun The state of life of a professed member of a regular monastic order: as, to enter religion; her name in religion is Mary Aloysia: now especially in Roman Catholic use.
  • noun A conscientious scruple; scrupulosity.
  • noun Sense of obligation; conscientiousness; sense of duty.
  • noun Synonyms Religion, Devotion, Piety, Sanctity, Saintliness, Godliness, Holiness, Religiosity. In the subjective aspect of these words religion is the most general, as it may be also the most formal or external; in this sense it is the place of the will and character of God in the heart, so that they are the principal object of regard and the controlling influence. Devotion and piety have most of fervor. Devotion is a religion that consecrates itself- being both a close attention to God with complete inward subjection and an equal attention to the duties of religion. Piety is religion under the aspect of filial feeling and conduct, the former being the primary idea. Sanctity is generally used objectively; subjectively it is the same as holiness- Saintliness i s more concrete than sanctity, more distinctly a quality of a person, likeness to a saint, ripeness for heaven. Godliness is higher than saintliness; it is likeness to God, or the endeavor to attain such likeness, fixed attention given immediately to God, especially obedience to his will and endeavor to copy his character. Holiness is the most absolute of these words; it is moral and religious wholeness, completeness, or something approaching so near to absolute freedom from sin as to make the word appropriate; it includes not only being free from sin, but refusing it and hating it for its own sake. Religiosity is not a very common nor a very euphonious word, but seems to meet a felt want by expressing a susceptibility to the sentiments of religion, awe, reverence, admiration for the teachings of religion, etc., without much disposition to obey its commands.

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

  • noun The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety.
  • noun Specifically, conformity in faith and life to the precepts inculcated in the Bible, respecting the conduct of life and duty toward God and man; the Christian faith and practice.
  • noun (R. C. Ch.) A monastic or religious order subject to a regulated mode of life; the religious state.
  • noun rare Strictness of fidelity in conforming to any practice, as if it were an enjoined rule of conduct.
  • noun a religion based upon the evidences of a God and his qualities, which is supplied by natural phenomena. See Natural theology, under Natural.
  • noun a name sometimes given to a religion founded upon positivism as a philosophical basis.
  • noun that which is based upon direct communication of God's will to mankind; especially, the Christian religion, based on the revelations recorded in the Old and New Testaments.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The belief in and worship of a supernatural controlling power, especially a personal god or gods.
  • noun A particular system of faith and worship.
  • noun The way of life committed to by monks and nuns.
  • noun Any practice that someone or some group is seriously devoted to.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny
  • noun an institution to express belief in a divine power


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

[Middle English religioun, from Old French religion, from Latin religiō, religiōn-, perhaps from religāre, to tie fast; see rely.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From religiōn-, the stem of the Latin religiō ("scrupulousness”, “pious misgivings”, “superstition”, “conscientiousness”, “sanctity”, “an object of veneration”, “cult-observance”, “reverence"), from relegō ("I bind back or behind"), from re + legō ("I choose, select; collect, gather").


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  • I think oysters are more beautiful than any religion...They not only forgive our unkindness to them; they justify it, they incite us to go on being perfectly horrid to them. Once they arrive at the supper table they seem to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the thing. There's nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster.

    --Saki, 1911, The Chronicles of Clovis

    November 16, 2007

  • I agree with Saki. Give me oysters over religion any day. Certainly (to misquote Larkin),

    "If I were called in

    To construct a religion

    I should make use of oysters."

    November 16, 2007

  • Not to mention they are usually alive when one eats them. (Or so I learned from reading The Big Oyster.)

    November 16, 2007

  • reesetee, they are only (supposed to be) alive when you eat them raw. I never eat them raw; I prefer them steamed. They're certainly not alive after that.

    *fingers crossed*

    November 16, 2007

  • Correct. I should have specified that. Anyway, I don't eat them noways, nohow.

    November 16, 2007

  • My cousin described a south seas delicacy he once tried--live baby octopi dipped in some sort of sauce and swallowed whole. The sensation going down was supposed to be the attraction to the dish. I've never been able to shake the mental image.

    I figured that as long as we were talking about oysters on the religion page I could toss that in...

    November 17, 2007

  • Bleurggh, cb. I could never understand why people would want to ruin a lovely cold slimy oyster by cooking it.

    I was watching the Lord of the Rings movie last night and at the scene where Sam is lambasting Gollum for wanting to eat his rabbit raw, I found myself taking Gollum's side.

    skipvia, the live baby octopi sound like fun. I've only eaten them cooked but I do like the texture.

    November 17, 2007

  • Yarb, the answer is: because eating a raw oyster is much like swallowing someone else's loogie. (Sorry reesetee--you must be barfing by now.)

    November 17, 2007

  • I think of it more affectionately, like swallowing a sneeze.

    November 17, 2007

  • Is there a gastroetymologist in the house?

    November 17, 2007

  • ew, eew, EEEEW!

    An oyster is a most unappetizing blob of glup.

    You and Gollum are welcome all of my share, yarb.

    November 17, 2007

  • *barfing*

    November 17, 2007

  • "Religion is a mysterious word. It can save some lives, and it can really ruin others."

    April 8, 2008

  • magic > religion.

    December 6, 2010