[kat-i-kiz-uh m]


  1. an elementary book containing a summary of the principles of the Christian religion, especially as maintained by a particular church, in the form of questions and answers.
  2. the contents of such a book.
a similar book of instruction in other subjects.
a series of formal questions put, as to political candidates, to bring out their views.
catechetical instruction.

Nearby words

  1. cateau, le,
  2. catechesis,
  3. catechetical,
  4. catechin,
  5. catechise,
  6. catechist,
  7. catechize,
  8. catechol,
  9. catecholamine,
  10. catechu

Origin of catechism

1495–1505; < Late Latin catēchismus apparently equivalent to catēch(izāre) to catechize + -ismus -ism

Related formscat·e·chis·mal, adjective

Can be confusedcataclysm catechism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for catechism



instruction by a series of questions and answers, esp a book containing such instruction on the religious doctrine of a Christian Church
rigorous and persistent questioning, as in a test or interview
Derived Formscatechismal, adjective

Word Origin for catechism

C16: from Late Latin catēchismus, ultimately from Greek katēkhizein to catechize

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for catechism



c.1500, "instruction in Christian principles," also "elementary question-and-answer book of religious instruction," from French catéchisme (14c.) and directly from Church Latin catechismus "book of instruction," from Greek katekhismos, from katekhizein "to teach orally" (see catechize). Related: Catechismal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper