an assembly of persons brought together for common religious worship.
the act of congregating or the state of being congregated.
a gathered or assembled body; assemblage.
an organization formed for the purpose of providing for worship of God, for religious education, and for other church activities; a local church society.
the people of Israel. Ex. 12:3,6; Lev. 4:13.
New Testament. the Christian church in general.
Roman Catholic Church.
a committee of cardinals or other ecclesiastics.
a community of men or women, either with or without vows, observing a common rule.
(at English universities) the general assembly of the doctors, fellows, etc.
(in colonial North America) a parish, town, plantation, or other settlement.

1300–50; Middle English congregacio(u)n (< Anglo-French) < Latin congregātiōn- (stem of congregātiō); see congregate, -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
congregation (ˌkɒŋɡrɪˈɡeɪʃən)
1.  a group of persons gathered for worship, prayer, etc, esp in a church or chapel
2.  the act of congregating or collecting together
3.  a group of people, objects, etc, collected together; assemblage
4.  the group of persons habitually attending a given church, chapel, etc
5.  RC Church
 a.  a society of persons who follow a common rule of life but who are bound only by simple vows
 b.  Also called: dicastery an administrative subdivision of the papal curia
 c.  an administrative committee of bishops for arranging the business of a general council
6.  chiefly (Brit) an assembly of senior members of a university

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1340, "a gathering, assembly," from Fr. congrégation, from O.Fr. congregacion (12c.), from L. congregationem, noun of action from congregare (see congregate). Used by Tyndale to translate Gk. ekklesia in New Testament and by some Old Testament translators in
place of synagoge. (Vulgate uses a variety of words in these cases, including congregatio but also ecclesia, vulgus, synagoga, populus.) Protestant reformers in 16c. used it in place of church; hence the word's main modern sense of "local society of believers" (1520s).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Congregation definition

(Heb. kahal), the Hebrew people collectively as a holy community (Num. 15:15). Every circumcised Hebrew from twenty years old and upward was a member of the congregation. Strangers resident in the land, if circumcised, were, with certain exceptions (Ex. 12:19; Num. 9:14; Deut. 23:1-3), admitted to the privileges of citizenship, and spoken of as members of the congregation (Ex. 12:19; Num. 9:14; 15:15). The congregation were summonded together by the sound of two silver trumpets, and they met at the door of the tabernacle (Num. 10:3). These assemblies were convened for the purpose of engaging in solemn religious services (Ex. 12:27; Num. 25:6; Joel 2:15), or of receiving new commandments (Ex. 19:7, 8). The elders, who were summonded by the sound of one trumpet (Num. 10:4), represented on various occasions the whole congregation (Ex. 3:16; 12:21; 17:5; 24:1). After the conquest of Canaan, the people were assembled only on occasions of the highest national importance (Judg. 20; 2 Chr. 30:5; 34:29; 1 Sam. 10:17; 2 Sam. 5:1-5; 1 Kings 12:20; 2 Kings 11:19; 21:24; 23:30). In subsequent times the congregation was represented by the Sanhedrim; and the name synagogue, applied in the Septuagint version exclusively to the congregation, came to be used to denote the places of worship established by the Jews. (See CHURCH.) In Acts 13:43, where alone it occurs in the New Testament, it is the same word as that rendered "synagogue" (q.v.) in ver. 42, and is so rendered in ver. 43 in R.V.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Britannica


an assembly of persons, especially a body assembled for religious worship or habitually attending a particular church. The word occurs more than 350 times in the King James Version of the English Bible, but only one of these references is in the New Testament (Acts 13:43). As it is used in the Old Testament, congregation sometimes refers to the entire Israelite community, and at other times it means a gathering or assembly of people

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The church has had a strong congregation active in the community and
  distinguished pastors.
For years he's made condolence calls or visits with members of his congregation
  whose pets have died.
The power of some of these preachers to really control their congregation.
No offence appeared to be taken by the congregation at this doctrine.
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