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[kat-i-kyoo-muh n] /ˌkæt ɪˈkyu mən/
Ecclesiastical. a person under instruction in the rudiments of Christianity, as in the early church; a neophyte.
a person being taught the elementary facts, principles, etc., of any subject.
1325-75; < Late Latin catēchūmenus < Greek katēchoúmenos (one who is) being taught orally, equivalent to katēche-, stem of katēcheîn to teach orally (see catechist) + -omenos middle present participle suffix; replacing Middle English cathecumyn < Middle French cathecumine < Late Latin, as above
Related forms
catechumenal, catechumenical
[kat-i-kyoo-men-i-kuh l] /ˌkæt ɪ kyuˈmɛn ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
catechumenically, adverb
[kat-i-kyoo-muh-neyt, -nit] /ˌkæt ɪˈkyu məˌneɪt, -nɪt/ (Show IPA),
catechumenism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for catechumen


(Christianity) a person, esp in the early Church, undergoing instruction prior to baptism
Derived Forms
catechumenal, catechumenical (ˌkætəkjʊˈmɛnɪkəl) adjective
catechumenate, noun
catechumenism, noun
Word Origin
C15: via Old French, from Late Latin, from Greek katēkhoumenos one being instructed verbally, from katēkhein; see catechize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for catechumen

"new convert," 15c., from French catéchumène, from Church Latin catechumenus, from Greek katekhoumenos "one being instructed," passive present participle of katekhein (see catechesis).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for catechumen

a person who receives instruction in the Christian religion in order to be baptized. According to the New Testament, the apostles instructed converts after baptism (Acts 2:41-42), and Christian instruction was evidently given to all converts (Luke 1:4, Acts 18:25, Galatians 6:6). As the number of Gentiles in the church increased, instruction became more definite. In the 4th century, with the rise of heresy, detailed doctrinal teaching was given. But by this time the postponement of baptism had become general (Constantine was not baptized until he was at the point of death), and, therefore, a large proportion of Christians belonged to the catechumenate. Most of them were merely "adherents" of the church, while others were under definite instruction for baptism. As infant baptism became general, the catechumenate decreased. The baptismal rites now used are adaptations of rites intended for the reception of adult catechumens.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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