Definition of pew in English:



  • 1A long bench with a back, placed in rows in the main part of some churches to seat the congregation.

    • ‘He chose a pew near the altar and said the Lord's Prayer over and over again until he stopped shaking.’
    • ‘And, they add, it would recognise that the Church is gravitating away from the ailing parishes and empty pews of Europe to focus on vibrant congregations to the south.’
    • ‘When they arrived at the church the pews were filled.’
    • ‘The congregation replaced stationary pews with ‘Danish modern’ wooden chairs that could be positioned in any arrangement.’
    • ‘Some traditional churches have no pews and there is never an organ because of the Orthodox belief that only the human voice is permitted in the worship of God.’
    • ‘The nave's interior is warmed by wood pews and window seats and red-oak ceilings.’
    • ‘I remember seeing Mrs. Zito praying in the back pews of our church on Sunday afternoons when I served as an acolyte at benediction.’
    • ‘There was nothing unusual about groups of elegantly clad gentleman scuffling unceremoniously in order to place themselves at the head of a procession or to bag the best pews for a church service.’
    • ‘Hall, who speaks in soft, measured tones, spent most of his life sitting in wooden church pews, hearing about the goodness of God.’
    • ‘She talked various relatives into donating land, helping with the construction of the church, and making pews, doors and roof struts.’
    • ‘Just like every other church, they have pews, pulpits and rooms.’
    • ‘From the pews the congregation looked on with mild affection, perhaps half hearing the weighty words about trust and steadfastness.’
    • ‘She sat in the church pews waiting for the service to begin.’
    • ‘There's something about the Christmas season that defies even the most secular of societies and brings out the people to fill up church pews in normally unheard of numbers.’
    • ‘Eritrean Orthodox Churches do not have pews or chairs; most churchgoers stand for the entire period unless they are elderly or sick.’
    • ‘There was only a handful of people in the congregation, sitting on pews toward the front of the nave.’
    • ‘It is a cold, gray church with hard wooden pews, a miserable place and after briefly walking through it Sonia wants to leave.’
    • ‘I miss the days of putting on Christmas plays and pageants for the masses who would huddle in gymnasiums or church pews just to see frightened little kids put on a show.’
    • ‘Canon Sue Whitehouse has been under fire over proposals by her and the church council to remove pews, raise part of the nave floor, install a nave altar and introduce a grand piano at St Andrew's Church in Aysgarth.’
    • ‘They spent six months restoring the pulpit, wall panelling, lecterns, pews, tables and wall plaques to their former glory.’
    bench, long seat, settle, stall
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An enclosure or compartment containing a number of seats, used in some churches to seat a particular worshipper or group of worshippers.
      See also box pew
      • ‘The director was to sit in an enclosed pew at the rear of the church.’
      • ‘Soon after being seated, down the main aisle to his pew walked Mark Twain, 24 with his big head of bushy hair.’
      • ‘Due to the pews being boxed, and most of them privately owned, by 1860 there was not enough room for the non-pew-owners to come for worship.’
    2. 1.2British informal A seat.
      ‘‘Take a pew. What'll you have?’’
      • ‘Be my guest, relax and take a pew: we've a lot to talk about!’
      • ‘If you want to observe each and every angle of the view offered without so much as moving your feet, take a pew at the revolving café and sip a coffee while enjoying the view bit by bit.’


Late Middle English (originally denoting a raised, enclosed place in a church, provided for particular worshippers): from Old French puye ‘balcony’, from Latin podia, plural of podium ‘elevated place’.