Church

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English

Alternative forms

Etymology

From Middle English chirche, from Old English ċiriċe ‎(“church”), from Proto-Germanic *kirikǭ, an early borrowing of Ancient Greek κυριακόν ‎(kuriakón), neuter form of κυριακός ‎(kuriakós, “belonging to the lord”), from κύριος ‎(kúrios, “ruler, lord”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱēw-, *ḱwā- ‎(“to swell, spread out, be strong, prevail”).

Greek κυριακόν ‎(kuriakón) was used of houses of Christian worship since 300 AD, especially in the East, though it was less common in this sense than ἐκκλησία ‎(ekklēsía, “congregation”) or βασιλική ‎(basilikḗ, “royal thing”). An example of the direct Greek-to-Germanic progress of many Christian words, via the Goths; it was probably used by West Germanic people in their pre-Christian period. Cognate with Scots kirk ‎(“church”), West Frisian tsjerke ‎(“church”), language|Saterland Frisian Säärke ‎(“church”), Dutch kerk ‎(“church”), German Kirche ‎(“church”), Danish kirke ‎(“church”), Swedish kyrka ‎(“church”), Norwegian kirke, kyrkje ‎(“church”), and Icelandic kirkja ‎(“church”). Also picked up by Slavic, via Old High German chirihha (compare Old Church Slavonic црькꙑ ‎(crĭky), Bulgarian църква ‎(cǎrkva), Russian це́рковь ‎(cérkovʹ)). Romance and Celtic languages use variants of Latin ecclesia.

See Also

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