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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He chose a pew near the altar and said the Lord's Prayer over and over again until he stopped shaking.’
    • ‘Just like every other church, they have pews, pulpits and rooms.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The congregation replaced stationary pews with ‘Danish modern’ wooden chairs that could be positioned in any arrangement.’
    • ‘Hall, who speaks in soft, measured tones, spent most of his life sitting in wooden church pews, hearing about the goodness of God.’
    • ‘There was only a handful of people in the congregation, sitting on pews toward the front of the nave.’
    • ‘They spent six months restoring the pulpit, wall panelling, lecterns, pews, tables and wall plaques to their former glory.’
    • ‘It is a cold, gray church with hard wooden pews, a miserable place and after briefly walking through it Sonia wants to leave.’
    • ‘Eritrean Orthodox Churches do not have pews or chairs; most churchgoers stand for the entire period unless they are elderly or sick.’
    • ‘From the pews the congregation looked on with mild affection, perhaps half hearing the weighty words about trust and steadfastness.’
    • ‘The nave's interior is warmed by wood pews and window seats and red-oak ceilings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When they arrived at the church the pews were filled.’
    • ‘She sat in the church pews waiting for the service to begin.’
    • ‘She talked various relatives into donating land, helping with the construction of the church, and making pews, doors and roof struts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I remember seeing Mrs. Zito praying in the back pews of our church on Sunday afternoons when I served as an acolyte at benediction.’
    bench, long seat, pew, settle, stall
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An 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
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The director was to sit in an enclosed pew at the rear of the church.’
    2. 1.2British informal A seat.
      ‘‘Take a pew. What'll you have?’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Be my guest, relax and take a pew: we've a lot to talk about!’


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.