Definition of preach in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Deliver a sermon or religious address to an assembled group of people, typically in church.

    ‘he preached to a large congregation’
    with object ‘our pastor will preach the sermon’
    • ‘The newly re-born legend soon featured as the centrepiece of a series of patriotic sermons preached in parish churches across England.’
    • ‘Don't just sit here and preach from the pulpit.’
    • ‘Rumors reach Jerusalem that Paul was preaching to the Gentiles in the far-flung corners of the Roman Empire.’
    • ‘And one of the early sermons I preached, I alluded to this light and how our faith is about light and the life and the love of God within the community.’
    • ‘He later became Bishop of Hippo where he preached powerfully for 35 years.’
    • ‘Our pastor preaches a sermon each week that is nearly always inspirational, relevant, comforting, educational and challenging.’
    • ‘They started preaching in mosques and on market squares.’
    • ‘In a sermon that I preached to my home congregation, I noted this.’
    • ‘He was also a lay reader in the Church of England and preached regularly.’
    • ‘They gave little encouragement to country dancing, often preaching strong sermons against it off the altar.’
    • ‘Results of missions could not be measured by the numbers of sermons preached or members added to church rosters, but by the way missionaries lived and mirrored Jesus Christ in their daily lives.’
    • ‘Would you like me to preach in your church on the sanctity of human life?’
    • ‘Paul, an early convert to Christianity, preached mainly to Gentiles outside Palestine.’
    • ‘He is said to have delivered 18,000 sermons, preaching 40-60 hours a week.’
    • ‘During the morning Harvest Festival service, I found myself thinking that my sermon had an uncomfortable similarity to the previous year's Harvest sermon I had preached in that church.’
    • ‘On the eve of the American Revolution about 1,800 Christian ministers preached from their pulpits.’
    • ‘His sermons, when he preaches, are modest and open.’
    • ‘Pastors preach against such beliefs and expectations in village churches on a weekly basis.’
    • ‘Stories have been repeatedly told about ranting, raving Baptist preachers who only preach sermons on hell and damnation.’
    • ‘But let's say that the book is a collection of sermons preached at that church.’
    give a sermon, deliver a sermon, sermonize, spread the gospel, evangelize, address, speak
    religious teaching, instruction, message
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Publicly proclaim or teach (a religious message or belief)
      ‘a church that preaches the good news’
      • ‘There are many today who do not preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ.’
      • ‘Because of this ministry, ministers across the nation can preach the Christian message to a culture that has been taught that the Bible cannot be trusted.’
      • ‘You preach some messages that are pretty uncomfortable for people to hear-messages people have heard often, but not necessarily taken to heart.’
      • ‘So Peter was the first to preach a message unto Gentile believers.’
      • ‘Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind, social justice and denounces superstitions and blind rituals.’
      • ‘It was a parable that preached the message of humility and was met by sustained applause.’
      • ‘If someone from among them was raised to heaven, it cannot stop the following prophets from preaching these beliefs.’
      • ‘John, a contemporary of Jesus who also preached a message of redemption, is one of the most important figures in Christianity.’
      • ‘Most religious nutballs that appear to be hate-mongers claim they are preaching a message of love.’
      • ‘In 1748 he gave protection to John Wesley after he tried to preach his message standing on the packhorse bridge.’
      • ‘India has preached this message of love for over fifty centuries.’
      • ‘He preached a universal message, love of God and love of brother, which was beyond any sectarianism or selfishness.’
      • ‘I heard ministers preaching Christ but what right had I to believe in Him?’
      • ‘They adopted local idiom and preached the message of love and universal brotherhood.’
      • ‘The church needs to recover the Jesus who lived before Christians imposed an alien creed on his life and teachings, the Jesus who preached a message of love of the God who created not just one group but all human beings.’
      • ‘Yet the former evangelical minister often preaches love and understanding during his political rallies.’
      • ‘Every religion preaches that the essence of all morality is to do good to others.’
      • ‘The message must be preached within the larger context of the biblical framework of God's holiness.’
      proclaim, teach, spread, propagate, expound, explain, make known
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Earnestly advocate (a belief or course of action)
      ‘my parents have always preached toleration and moderation’
      • ‘They also preach tolerance of others with different beliefs.’
      • ‘I've been around for years, preaching the same message.’
      • ‘It preaches a message of racism, intolerance and brutality that flies in the face of this country's history and heritage.’
      • ‘Let's unite and preach that message loud and clear and consistently.’
      • ‘We run a business, not a re-education camp, so we don't preach the co-operative gospel to people.’
      • ‘Very few people can actually bear to be nihilists; very few people can preach a message of paralysis and despair for long.’
      • ‘Then they swung 180-degrees to oppose it, aligning themselves with other environmental groups preaching the same message.’
      • ‘‘The accused preaches a message of hate and violence,’ he said.’
      • ‘Her children are her lifeline, and she constantly preaches togetherness to them.’
      • ‘He has preached the same message from Day One - he wants them to be the toughest, meanest group in the NFL.’
      • ‘It preaches a powerful message about losing one's identity when blindly following the leadership of an unknown, unhinged superior.’
      • ‘Now he was free to preach his message to larger groups of people.’
      • ‘I appeal to communities in the Eastern Cape to form safety community networks and preach a message of dignity and respect for women.’
      • ‘Everyone from the top down had preached the same message: ‘change your behaviour… change your behaviour’.’
      • ‘I'm somebody who often, like so many people, preaches what he needs to learn.’
      • ‘In common with religion, German Romanticism used allegory to preach its message.’
      • ‘Seek out television, radio, and print opportunities to preach the message of nondiscrimination.’
      • ‘As much as they preached the message of prevention they failed to have women change their attitude.’
      • ‘Then came major corporations that tried to erect a central stage to make the Internet a platform to preach their own messages.’
      • ‘For as long as I've known you, you've always preached the virtue of consistency.’
      advocate, recommend, advise, urge, exhort, teach, counsel, champion, inculcate, instil
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3no object Give moral advice to someone in an annoying or pompously self-righteous way.
      ‘viewers want to be entertained, not preached at’
      • ‘And achieving that without resorting to preaching about moral values isn't easy.’
      • ‘I'm not looking to be preached at, hectored or lectured in any way.’
      • ‘Fellows do not learn values from having them preached at them, but from seeing values enacted in the routine of daily life.’
      • ‘So, all in all, I think he had a great opportunity, but didn't do more than just preach the message.’
      • ‘Many of the kids will eventually rebel against all the stuff preached at them, however.’
      • ‘It neither preached at me, nor thought for me, but asked me to make up my own mind.’
      • ‘I preached at myself to avoid preaching to my reader.’
      • ‘I have never ever preached at them, but I have given them my opinion where they have asked for it.’
      • ‘They do think they are so right and preach constantly.’
      • ‘They constantly preach about the moral failings of the rest of us - yet they keep getting caught with their own pants down, morally speaking.’
      • ‘He appeared not to care, and worse, preached self-righteousness without knowing why.’
      • ‘How did I end up constantly feeling angry, cheated, and misled for paying good money to be preached at?’
      • ‘They prefer to be shown a truth rather than told, just as adults do, to discover a moral lesson on their own rather than having it preached at them.’
      • ‘Working class kids are the most policed, preached at and controlled group in society.’
      • ‘He viewed him then as ‘the stereotype of a head waiter’ who preached at them ‘like a division chaplain in the army’.’
      moralize, be moralistic, sermonize, pontificate, lecture, harangue
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4informal as exclamation Used to affirm one's approval of or support for a stated opinion, advocated course of action, etc.
      ‘“Please continue to speak up if you see bullying—it could save another's life.” “Preach!”’
      ‘“All coaches in this league need to be better—it's embarrassing.” “Preach it, Michael”’


  • preach to the choir (or the converted)

    • Advocate something to people who already share one's convictions about its merits or importance.

      • ‘Tell any mother who is either working or wants to get back into paid work after having a child that it is difficult finding affordable childcare, and you are already preaching to the converted.’
      • ‘You're preaching to the converted over here, my friend.’
      • ‘The problem is more than just preaching to the converted.’
      • ‘Thursday's summit attracted an audience of around 100 young farmers and industry insiders and it was a case of preaching to the converted for many delegates.’
      • ‘I guess we're sort of preaching to the converted already.’
      • ‘We were preaching to the choir, but it was good, catty fun.’
      • ‘If you like this kind of stuff, then I'm already preaching to the converted.’
      • ‘If you already have parts 1-4 of this series, then I am already preaching to the converted.’
      • ‘Is this success because he's been preaching to the converted?’
      • ‘I believe this is what is known as " preaching to the choir"?’
      • ‘I know that I'm probably preaching to the converted, but, even if you're don't listen to it, a community-based radio station is an essential part of Canberra's culture.’
      • ‘Spoken word records covering social and political issues can be a bit of a dicey situation since they usually don't hold up past the first listen and they hardly sell because they're already preaching to the converted.’


Middle English: from Old French prechier, from Latin praedicare ‘proclaim’, in ecclesiastical Latin ‘preach’, from prae ‘before’ + dicare ‘declare’.