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I am looking to find a noun that can be used to describe the social setting/activities going on around a dining table when a family is eating dinner. I find that "community" might refer to a larger group of people related more to activities out in the society and not so much within a family setting.

I then found the word "communion" to refer to

1) A joining together of minds or spirits. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/communion)

which will fit my case quiet nicely.

However I found that "Communion" (spelled with a capital 'C') might only be used in a religious context (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Communion)

What are your thoughts on this? Can I use the word "communion" like this:

The whole family enjoyed the communion they had around the dining table every evening.

Thank you.

  • 1
    Seems fine to me. And agrees with your dictionary listing. – GEdgar May 19 '17 at 9:37
  • Yeah, the term tends to suggest some sort of spiritual or emotional connection, but it is often used (uncapitalized) in a non-religious sense. – Hot Licks May 19 '17 at 11:26
  • It might help you if you use resources other than Wikipedia. There are dozens of online dictionaries published by professionals. Which ones did you check and what did they say? – AmE speaker May 19 '17 at 13:35
  • The religious (Christian) meaning is not even the first meaning - Wordweb, Google. – Drew May 19 '17 at 13:53
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Yes. It is common non-religious usage, to e.g. say somebody is in communion with nature.

Ref http://www.projecthappyhearts.com/uncategorized/5-ways-to-improve-your-well-being-through-communion-with-nature/

This has religious overtones, but is not in any strict religious context.

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Whilst I believe the word is often suggestive of a religious or quasi-spiritual context (e.g. "She found herself in communion with nature".), because of its inevitable association with Holy Communion, the OED does recognise, and lists as its first meaning a very general one. (It is only when you get to sense 4, that Holy Communion is mentioned).

1a. The action or fact of sharing or holding something in common with others; mutual participation; the condition of things so held, mutuality, community, union.

▸a1382 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Ecclus. ix. 20 The comunyoun of deth [L. communionem mortis] wite thou; for in the myddil of grenes thou shalt gon in.

c1530 Pol. Rel. & L. Poems (1866) 33 Yf thei be merchauntes, dyvision of heritage is bettyr than commvnion.

1559 T. Paynell tr. Erasmus Complaint of Peace sig. B.iii, I behold & se the communion of al things a colledge ioyned together, al one temple, the selfe same lawes, the quotidian & dayly conuentes.

1591 H. Smith Preparatiue to Mariage 2 Mariage..is nothing els but a communion of life between man and woman, ioyned together according to the ordinance of God.

1617 F. Moryson Itinerary iii. i. iii. 46 They attribute..hospitalitie to the Brittanes, communion of all things to the Normans.

1695 R. South Tritheism 192 To affirm mutual Consciousness to be the cause of the Union of the Three Divine Persons in the same Nature, is to confound the Union and Communion of the said Persons together.

1737 D. Waterland Rev. Doctr. Eucharist 272 By Communion, the Apostle certainly intended a joint-Communion, or participating in common with others.

1809 S. T. Coleridge Friend 9 Nov. 184 In France there was no public Credit, no communion of Interests.

1865 G. Grote Plato I. i. 52 Having no communion of nature with other things.

1921 M. Mortensen Managem. Dairy Plants ii. 11 An association founded upon a contract between two or more competent persons for joining their money, goods, labor, and skill..with the understanding that there shall be a communion of profit among such partners.

1945 J. West Plainville, U.S.A. ii. 100 Each loafing group..involves a central nucleus of membership, some communion of interest, and frequently an informal meeting place.

1998 A. J. Nicholls in C. Buffet & B. Heuser Haunted by Hist. xiv. 221 If German statesmen and politicians thought of improving relations with the West, they usually looked for some illusory communion of interests with Britain.

The earliest OED reference to Holy Communion with regard to the Eucharist is from 1440 (i.e. in the century prior to the Reformation.

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