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[n. kong-gris; v. kuh n-gres, kuh ng-] /n. ˈkɒŋ grɪs; v. kənˈgrɛs, kəŋ-/
(initial capital letter)
  1. the national legislative body of the U.S., consisting of the Senate, or upper house, and the House of Representatives, or lower house, as a continuous institution.
  2. this body as it exists for a period of two years during which it has the same membership:
    the Ninety-Seventh Congress.
  3. a session of this body:
    to speak in Congress.
the national legislative body of a nation, especially of a republic.
a formal meeting or assembly of representatives for the discussion, arrangement, or promotion of some matter of common interest.
the act of coming together; an encounter; meeting.
an association, especially one composed of representatives of various organizations.
familiar relations; dealings; intercourse.
coitus; sexual intercourse.
verb (used without object)
to assemble together; meet in congress.
Origin of congress
1350-1400 for earlier sense “body of attendants, following”; 1520-30 for current senses; Middle English < Latin congressus assembly, intercourse, meeting, equivalent to congred(ī) to approach, meet (con- con- + -gredī, combining form of gradī to step; cf. grade) + -tus suffix of v. action
Related forms
pre-Congress, noun
3. conference, council, convention. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for congress


a meeting or conference, esp of representatives of a number of sovereign states
a national legislative assembly
a society or association
sexual intercourse
Word Origin
C16: from Latin congressus from congredī to meet with, from com- together + gradī to walk, step


the bicameral federal legislature of the US, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate
this body during any two-year term
Also called Congress Party. (in India) a major political party, which controlled the Union government from 1947 to 1977 Official name Indian National Congress
Derived Forms
Congressional, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for congress

c.1400, "body of attendants; also "meeting of armed forces" (mid-15c.); main modern sense of "coming together of people, a meeting" is from 1520s; from Latin congressus "a friendly meeting; a hostile encounter," past participle of congredi "meet with, fight with," from com- "together" (see com-) + gradi "to walk," from gradus "a step" (see grade (n.)).

Sense of "meeting of delegates" is first recorded 1670s. Meaning "sexual union" is from 1580s. Used in reference to the national legislative body of the American states since 1775 (though since 1765 in America as a name for proposed bodies). Congress of Vienna met Nov. 1, 1814, to June 8, 1815, and redrew the map of Europe with an eye to creating a balance of powers after the disruptions of Napoleon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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congress in Culture

Congress definition

The legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Popularly elected, senators and representatives are responsible for advocating the interests of the constituents they represent. Numerous congressional committees are organized to study issues of public policy, recommend action, and, ultimately, pass laws. Congress plays an important role in the system of checks and balances; in fact, the two-house (bicameral) organization of Congress acts as an internal check, for each house must separately vote to pass a bill for it to become a law. In addition to lawmaking, Congress has a variety of functions, including appropriation of funds for executive and judicial activities; instituting taxes and regulating commerce; declaring war and raising and supporting a military; setting up federal courts and conducting impeachment proceedings; and approving presidential appointments.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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