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Both 'devotion' and 'devotional' are commonly used in Christian language and writings. Which is correct?

I've examined my current dictionary and found 'devotional' is not listed. Looking at a much older dictionary I have (c. 1900), I found both listed, but 'devotional' only as an adjective.

Usage seems to be in favour of 'devotion', judging by Google Ngram. So overall it appears 'devotion' may be correct, but 'devotional' is extremely frequently used also (one quick example from a Google search).

Which is correct as a noun?

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  • Collins dictionary has "devotional" as a noun, meaning a short religious or prayer service. See collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/devotional
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 4 at 6:07
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    "Both 'devotion' and 'devotional' are commonly used in Christian language and writings. Which is correct?" In what context? -- " judging by Google Ngram" Please have a look at the examples.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Apr 4 at 9:33

2 Answers 2

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The term for Christian literature used in the way you describe is "devotional".

This is a standard category in Christian bookshops. For example:

However, "devotions" is also used in individual titles:

Dictionaries define the terms by reference to religious services rather than specifically to the literature:

  • "devotional - noun 3. Often devotionals. a short religious service" (dictionary.com)
  • "devotion - noun 4. Often devotions. Ecclesiastical. religious observance or worship; a form of prayer or worship for special use." (dictionary.com)

I am familiar with the terms and have used them in Christian contexts in Australia for many years.

In my experience, the substantive "devotional" refers to the literature, perhaps as nominalisation of the adjective "devotional literature -> devotional". The term "devotions" (as plurale tantum) refers primarily to the discussion of a Bible text for Christian edification, regardless of whether the commentary is taken from a published volume. The use of "devotions" to refer to the volume itself can be considered to be metonymy or semantic broadening.

To answer your question: it is standard bookstore usage for the published material to be called devotionals. You can read from a devotional during devotions, and each 'chapter', if intended to be read during devotions, can itself be called devotions. So you might have a single devotional (volume) containing multiple devotions (chapters).

Disclaimer: I have picked links to (major) online stores that sell books because the stores can be regarded as usage authorities regarding words used to categorise books. At the time of submitting this answer, I don't have an affiliate relationship with any of the linked bookstores, and I do not expect any direct financial reward from click-throughs or purchases using the links I supplied.

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Both ‘devotion’ and ‘devotional’ can be correct as nouns, but they have different uses.

Devotion is a noun that refers to a strong feeling CoveredCalifornia of love or loyalty towards someone or something. It can also refer to religious worship or dedication. For example:

  • His devotion to his family was admirable.
  • Morning devotions are a part of her daily routine.

Devotional, on the other hand, can be used as an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, it describes something related to devotion or religious worship. As a noun, it refers to a religious text or object that is used in worship or prayer, such as a book of prayers or a religious statue. For example:

  • She reads a devotional book every night.
  • The devotional music set a reverent tone for the service.

In summary, ‘devotion’ is used to describe the act or feeling of dedication, while ‘devotional’ as a noun typically refers to items used in religious practice. Both terms are correct, depending on the context in which they are used.

Best Regard, ryan1969

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Apr 4 at 5:52
  • Your example use of 'devotional' seems to be as an adjective, not a noun. Commented Apr 4 at 12:44

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