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[pyoo] /pyu/
(in a church) one of a number of fixed, benchlike seats with backs, accessible by aisles, for the use of the congregation.
an enclosed seat in a church, or an enclosure with seats, usually reserved for a family or other group of worshipers.
those occupying pews; congregation.
1350-1400; Middle English puwe < Middle French puie balcony < Latin podia, plural (taken as singular) of podium balcony. See podium Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pews
  • But the pews were packed, the extra chairs claimed, the doorways crowded.
  • Some of the town's citizens sit in the meeting hall's pews, occasionally trying to be heard in little piping voices.
  • It is a small brick-built former storeroom with no pews.
  • There couldn't have been more than twenty-five, thirty of us scattered around the pews in our overcoats and scarves.
  • The audience was packed tight, rows of folding chairs extended beyond the wooden pews to capture the overflow.
  • The authoritarian followers who fill a lot of the pews in these churches strongly agree.
  • Take your illiterate lack of knowledge back to the pews where you belong and leave our forum to those who are educated.
  • The people in the pews had lingering questions about his commitment to the pro-life cause.
  • Then they left me to sit in one of the pews and gather my thoughts.
  • Reporters looked for mahogany pews and silver chalices.
British Dictionary definitions for pews


(in a church)
  1. one of several long benchlike seats with backs, used by the congregation
  2. an enclosed compartment reserved for the use of a family or other small group
(Brit, informal) a seat (esp in the phrase take a pew)
Word Origin
C14 pywe, from Old French puye, from Latin podium a balcony, from Greek podion supporting structure, from pous foot
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 pews



late 14c., "raised, enclosed seat for certain worshippers" (ladies, important men, etc.), from Old French puie, puy "balcony, elevation," from Latin podia, plural of podium "elevated place," also "balcony in a Roman theater" (see podium). Meaning "fixed bench with a back, for a number of worshippers" is attested from 1630s.

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


originally a raised and enclosed place in a church designed for an ecclesiastical dignitary or officer; the meaning was later extended to include special seating in the body of the church for distinguished laity and, finally, to include all church seating. In its early stages, the pew was meant for standing in and was close in conception to a pulpit; but in its second phase of development, it became an elaborate wooden structure, shut off from the main body of the nave, with seats, prayer benches, and other accessories. Such pews were owned by individuals or institutions and appeared both in wills and in legal actions

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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