Definition of catechism in US English:



  • 1A summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.

    • ‘The nature of Joe Christmas's proposed induction into the church, through the study of the Presbyterian catechism, is based on a ritual of question-and-answer in which the initiate offers himself up to the power of the church.’
    • ‘Vos's approach is to go through the Questions and Answers of the catechism in sections, teasing out the theological and practical truths contained in the answers.’
    • ‘Edith responded immediately by buying a missal and a catechism and preparing for baptism.’
    • ‘The triumph of God's suffering love, as revealed and embodied in Christ, is a theme that unifies the entire catechism.’
    • ‘The catechism explains that Original Sin ensures that each human being, as a descendant of Adam and Eve, inherits ‘a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice.’’
    • ‘An ‘inclusive’ English translation of the catechism of the Catholic Church was delayed for months while the Vatican corrected the doctrinal problems raised by the new version.’
    • ‘Even in England, where the established Church was Anglican, Nonconformists and radicals organized a National Education League to ensure that under the 1870 Education Act the catechism would not be taught in rate-supported schools.’
    • ‘Here we see how the catechisms give us a very realistic answer to the question of belief.’
    • ‘He was an extraordinary preacher, a devoted pastor, a catechist who wrote his own catechism, a visitor of the sick, a counsellor, and one deeply concerned about missions, ecumenism, church polity, and church discipline.’
    • ‘Question 64 of the catechism states that the mission of the church is to extend mercy and forgiveness to ‘the needy’ in ways that point to Christ.’
    • ‘Christianity, Spener insists, is not just the memorization of catechisms and forms.’
    • ‘William Hone was acquitted in three famous trials after having parodied the litany, the Athanasian Creed, and the church catechism.’
    • ‘I can still remember learning my catechism in primary school, and being struck by one of the questions.’
    • ‘As I compare my evolutionary account of Original Sin with the catechism's exposition, I see a fairly good fit.’
    • ‘The friars and their native assistants produced an immense number of grammars, dictionaries, catechisms, confessional manuals, sermon outlines, chronicles, and even religious dramas.’
    • ‘As expressed in the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer, the mission of the church is made explicit as the body of Christ.’
    • ‘Religious life on the missions centred on the teaching of the catechism and a calendar of elaborate festivals.’
    • ‘All this was still done, though, under the aegis of clergy in the name of religion, and the central element in Pietist education remained the teaching of the Bible and of the catechism (a question-and-answer statement of Christian faith).’
    • ‘I am sure he does not want a textbook answer taken from a creed or a catechism.’
    • ‘The Falloux law of 1850 confirmed this principle, and a ministerial regulation from 1851 called for the teaching of prayers, the recitation of the catechism, and history lessons covering the Old and New Testaments.’
    system of belief, set of principles, statement of beliefs, profession of faith
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction in other situations.
      • ‘I ended that address with a little catechism for Catholic writers: Question 1: What is the duty of the Catholic novelist?’
      • ‘Almost every morning for the past five years, she has been leading close to 500 children in a rousing, outdoor catechism about education.’


Early 16th century: from ecclesiastical Latin catechismus, from ecclesiastical Greek, from katēkhizein (see catechize).