• synagogue •
si-nê-gahg • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: The temple where a Jewish congregation gathers for religious worship.
Notes: Don't be tempted to spell this word
synagog. Synagogue refers exclusively to the building where a Jewish community congregates for worship. Church is where Christian communities congregate. A mosque is where Muslims worship. The adjective for synagogue is synagogical or synagogal.
In Play: The synagogue is a holy place in Jewish life: "Long after the faithful had left, when only a few half-burnt candles flickered in the synagogue, we would sit there in deep conversation." It is also a place of many activities centered around Judaism: "The synagogue was where the rabbi gave Hebrew lessons and Bible study, and taught cantoring to the boys."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French sinagoge (Modern French synagogue), from Late Latin synagoga "Jewish congregation", from Greek synagoge "place of assembly, synagogue". Synagoge was the noun from the verb synagein "to gather, bring together, comprising syn- "(together) with" + agein "to bring, carry, draw", which Greek inherited from PIE ag- "to drive, draw, move". It was used by Greek translators of the Old Testament as a translation of late Hebrew keneseth "assembly", as in beth keneseth "house of assembly, synagogue". Keneseth also underlies Knesset. PIE ag- emerged in Latin as agere "to drive, do", whose participles, present (agen(t)s) and past (actus), went into the makings of many Latinate borrowings in English, such as agent and act. (Let's give newcomer William Disney a round of e-applause for suggesting today's holy Good Word.)
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