Origin of calling places of worship "churches"

Curious, does anyone happen to know the origin of places of worship being called “churches…?” Some faiths regard them as “temples” or “synagogues.” Is the term “churches” mainly a Christian tradition…? I always appreciate your insights – thank you…!

In Eastern Christianity, the term “temple” is commonly. In Spanish, Catholics often refer to their churches as “templo”. So yes, Catholic “churches” are also “temples”.


Yes, in languages that descend from Germanic, Slavonic, and other Eastern European languages and Greek, it’s a derivative of the Greek for “the Lord’s house”, kyrios meaning Lord. (From whence we get the Kyrie Eleison prayer) and kyriakon meaning “of the Lord”. English descends from Germanic languages.

Kirche, kirk, kerk, church, and other derivatives are found in many languages today.

Those languages that descend from Latin derived their word from the Latin ecclesia (which derives from the Greek ekklesia) instead— eglise in French, chiesa in Italian, iglesia in Spanish.


Excellent answer.

1 Like

Some further information:

“Church”, etymologically, is descended from the Medieval Greek word κυριακόν (kuriakon), an adjective meaning “of the Lord”. Initially it was κυριακὸν δῶμα (kuriakon doma), “house of the Lord”, then was shortened to just κυριακὸν.

There were actually three nouns in common use in early Christianity to refer to churches (that is, places of worship):

  1. κυριακόν;
  2. ἐκκλησία (ekklesia), a noun meaning “a gathering” or “a congregation”; and
  3. βασιλική (basilike) an adjective meaning “royal” but used in the sense of βασιλικὴ στόα (basilike stoa) “a royal building”

This explains the etymological diversity of most European languages in referring to Christian places of worship.

This guy says “no” to the Greek kurion origin theory:

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.