[in-sti-too-shuh n, -tyoo-]
See more synonyms for institution on
  1. an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program, especially one of a public, educational, or charitable character: This college is the best institution of its kind.
  2. the building devoted to such work.
  3. a public or private place for the care or confinement of inmates, especially mental patients or other persons with physical or mental disabilities.
  4. Sociology. a well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships that is accepted as a fundamental part of a culture, as marriage: the institution of the family.
  5. any established law, custom, etc.
  6. any familiar, long-established person, thing, or practice; fixture.
  7. the act of instituting or setting up; establishment: the institution of laws.
  8. Ecclesiastical.
    1. the origination of the Eucharist, and enactment of its observance, by Christ.
    2. the investment of a member of the clergy with a spiritual charge.

Origin of institution

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin institūtiōn- (stem of institūtiō). See institute, -ion
Related formscoun·ter·in·sti·tu·tion, nounnon·in·sti·tu·tion, nounre·in·sti·tu·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for institution

Contemporary Examples of institution

Historical Examples of institution

  • I did not tell you of it at the time, but led you to suppose that I had been at the institution.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • The truth was, a boy meant just so much a year to the institution.

  • And this was strange, since the Italian restaurant is such a peculiarly British institution.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • I was received into the institution without any difficulty, and have belonged to it ever since.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • So let us hasten to this institution, and participate this divine joy.

British Dictionary definitions for institution


  1. the act of instituting
  2. an organization or establishment founded for a specific purpose, such as a hospital, church, company, or college
  3. the building where such an organization is situated
  4. an established custom, law, or relationship in a society or community
  5. Also called: institutional investor a large organization, such as an insurance company, bank, or pension fund, that has substantial sums to invest on a stock exchange
  6. informal a constant feature or practiceJones' drink at the bar was an institution
  7. the appointment or admission of an incumbent to an ecclesiastical office or pastoral charge
  8. Christian theol the creation of a sacrament by Christ, esp the Eucharist
Derived Formsinstitutionary, adjective
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 institution

c.1400, "action of establishing or founding (a system of government, a religious order, etc.)," from Old French institucion "foundation; thing established," from Latin institutionem (nominative institutio) "disposition, arrangement; instruction, education," noun of state from institutus (see institute). Meaning "established law or practice" is from 1550s. Meaning "establishment or organization for the promotion of some charity" is from 1707.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper