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[sur-muh n] /ˈsɜr mən/
a discourse for the purpose of religious instruction or exhortation, especially one based on a text of Scripture and delivered by a member of the clergy as part of a religious service.
any serious speech, discourse, or exhortation, especially on a moral issue.
a long, tedious speech.
Origin of sermon
1150-1200; Middle English < Medieval Latin sermōn- (stem of sermō) speech from pulpit, Latin: discourse, equivalent to ser- (base of serere to link up, organize) + -mōn- noun suffix
Related forms
sermonless, adjective
2, 3. lecture. 3. harangue, tirade. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for sermon


  1. an address of religious instruction or exhortation, often based on a passage from the Bible, esp one delivered during a church service
  2. a written version of such an address
a serious speech, esp one administering reproof
Derived Forms
sermonic (sɜːˈmɒnɪk), sermonical, adjective
Word Origin
C12: via Old French from Latin sermō discourse, probably from serere to join together
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 sermon

c.1200, sarmun, "a discourse upon a text of scripture; what is preached," from Anglo-French sermun, Old French sermon "speech, words, discourse; church sermon, homily" (10c.), from Latin sermonem (nominative sermo) "continued speech, conversation; common talk, rumor; learned talk, discourse; manner of speaking, literary style," originally "a stringing together of words," from PIE *ser-mo-, suffixed form of root *ser- (3) "to line up, join" (see series).

Main modern sense in English and French is elliptical for Latin sermo religiosus. In transferred (non-religious) use from 1590s. The Sermon on the Mount is in 5,6,7 Matt. and 6 Luke. Related: Sermonic; sermonical; sermonish.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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