"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."

Mormon Glossary and Vocabulary

The following words are frequently encountered when reading or listening to discussions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Aaronic Priesthood - The lesser priesthood of the Church, consisting of the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop. Holders of this priesthood attend to temporal affairs of the Church (cf. Melchizedek Priesthood).

active in the Church - Refers to regular attendance at meetings, observance of the principles of the gospel, and acceptance of Church callings. (See Activity in the Church home page)

Adam - The first man. Latter-day Saints view him as one of the greatest and noblest of all men.

Adamic language - A perfect spoken and written language given by God to Adam.

Adam-ondi-Ahman - The place (in what is now Daviess County, Missouri) where Adam gathered and blessed his posterity before his death; a locale where a future priesthood meeting will be held just previous to Christ's second coming.

added upon - A phrase indicating that the faithful receive additional blessings in the life to follow. Those who were faithful in premortal life had blessings "added upon" them in mortality. Those who are faithful in this life will have "glory added upon their heads for ever and ever" (Abr. 3:26).

administer - To perform an ordinance, such as anointing the sick with oil or saying the set prayers to bless the bread and water of the sacrament. (See Priesthood Ordinances home page)

agency (often called free agency) - The granted right to choose good or evil, and the responsibility for the choices made.

age of accountability - The age at which a child becomes personally responsible for motives, attitudes, desires, and actions. Designated by revelation to begin at eight years of age (D&C 68:25). (See Teachings About Children home page; Accountability)

Ancestral File™ - A computerized system of genealogical information that links names of individuals into pedigrees, showing their ancestors and descendants.

Ancient of Days - A term used in Daniel 7:9, identified by revelation to Joseph Smith as Adam.

angel, fallen - Specifically, the devil. Generally, all who followed the devil in the premortal existence.

angels - Literally, messengers; usually referring to messengers from God.

anointing(s) - The placing of a drop or two of consecrated olive oil on a person's head as part of a special blessing, under the direction of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

apostates - Members who seriously oppose or ignore cardinal teachings of the Church, publicly or privately.

apostle - An office in the Melchizedek Priesthood; usually a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

apostolic Church - The Church presided over by the Twelve Apostles following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

area - A geographical ecclesiastical unit of the Church consisting of several regions and presided over by a president, who is a General Authority.

archives - A general description for the record-keeping facilities of the Church in Salt Lake City. The archives hold a wide variety of records, including Church membership information, historical accounts, and the largest collection of genealogical data in the world.

Articles of Faith - Thirteen concise statements of LDS belief written by Joseph Smith in the Wentworth Letter.

assistants to the twelve - Persons who at one time in the Church were specifically called to be General Authorities to assist the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

authority - Duly conferred priesthood power or delegated responsibility associated with position or function.

auxiliary organizations - The Primary (children), Relief Society (adult women), Sunday School, and Young Men and Young Women organizations of the Church. Auxiliary organizations exist primarily to assist the priesthood government of the Church.


Babylon - A term symbolic of worldliness.

baptism for the dead - The practice of vicarious baptism for the deceased.

bear testimony - To express one's personal convictions of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

bear the priesthood - To possess or hold duly conferred priesthood authority.

beehive symbol - A logo representing industry and harmony, appearing frequently on objects associated with the LDS Church and Utah.

beyond the veil - A metaphorical expression for the spirit world or for life after death. (See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

bind on earth, bind in heaven - Through the priesthood sealing power, to make an ordinance performed on earth valid throughout eternity.

bishop - A priesthood office whose bearer has been ordained and set apart to preside over a ward.

bishop's court - A term used until recent years to indicate a disciplinary council conducted by a bishop.

bishopric - A bishop and his two counselors.

board (general, auxiliary) - A small group of Church members called to help leaders of Church auxiliary organizations, such as Relief Society or Sunday School, at both the stake and the general Church administrative levels.

blood atonement - The doctrine that the shedding of blood atones for sin.

Book of Abraham - Writings of Abraham, revealed to Joseph Smith. The Book of Abraham is one of the books in the Pearl of Great Price.

Book of Commandments - The earliest published collection of revelations to Joseph Smith; a predecessor to the Doctrine and Covenants.

Book of Mormon - An account of ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, recorded on gold plates and translated by Joseph Smith. The record contains both a history of the people and the fulness of the everlasting gospel as revealed by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.

Book of Moses - A record from the creation of the world and mankind to the flood at Noah's time, revealed to Joseph Smith while he was translating the Bible. Selections from the Book of Moses are now part of the Pearl of Great Price.

book of remembrance - (1) A record begun by Adam and his immediate posterity; (2) a personal book containing genealogy and significant family history.

born in the covenant - All children born to a couple after they have been married (sealed) in a temple.

branch - Generally the smallest organized congregation of Latter-day Saints.

brass plates - A record spoken of in the Book of Mormon, which was similar to the Old Testament, written on plates of brass, containing many writings of the prophets (1 Ne. 5:10-16); brought by Lehi and his family to the Western Hemisphere.

brethren (1) All male members of the Church; (2) "The Brethren," a designation of the General Authorities of the Church.

burning in the bosom - A metaphorical description of the feeling that sometimes attends the enveloping Spirit of the Lord, particularly when one understands God's words through the influence of the Holy Ghost (Luke 24:32; D&C 9:3-8).


callings - Invitations to accept an office or assignment; offices or assignments themselves.

celestial kingdom - The highest of three degrees of glory in the kingdom of heaven.

center place of Zion - The "center place," Independence, Missouri, the future site of the City of Zion (the New Jerusalem) and the temple (D&C 57:3); sometimes incorrectly called "center stake."

chapel - The room or hall in a Church meetinghouse used for worship services.

child of God - The Latter-day Saint belief that all persons are spirit children of God in the premortal existence and that this parent-child relationship continues on this earth and through eternity.

Children's Friend - The Church's children's magazine, 1902-1970.

chosen people - Specifically those selected by God for special responsibilities, often requiring service and sacrifice; participants in the covenant of the gospel.

Church News - A weekly news supplement published by the Deseret News, the Church-owned newspaper.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - The official name of the Church.

church of the Firstborn - Those who are exalted or assured of receiving exaltation.

collection of fast offerings - The collection of voluntary offerings on fast day, usually the first Sunday of each month. (See Fast Offerings)

Comforter - The scriptures speak of two Comforters. The First Comforter is the Holy Ghost. The Second Comforter is Jesus Christ (John 14:1623; see also TPJS, pp. 150-51).

common consent - The principle whereby Church members vote to sustain and approve those called to serve in the Church and decisions made by leaders.

common judge - The bishop of each ward, who has the responsibility to judge the spiritual and temporal condition of members of his ward. The stake president of each stake serves as a common judge for all members of his stake.

companion, missionary - A missionary's partner. Missionaries in the Church always work in pairs. (See Missionary Work home page)

compassionate service - Aid or comfort rendered to others, in particular by members of the Relief Society.

conference reports - The published proceedings of the general conferences of the Church.

confirmation - The bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost to newly baptized members by holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood; also official recognition of Church membership.

consecration, law of - A divine principle whereby men and women voluntarily dedicate their time, talents, and material wealth to the establishment and building up of God's kingdom.

convert (noun) - A person who has chosen to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by being baptized and confirmed.

correlation - A process by which all programs of the Church are identified and placed in proper relationship to each other: teachings, organizations, programs, meetings, and instructional materials.

council in heaven - The meeting in the premortal life of the Godhead and spirits designated for this earth, in which the plan of salvation was presented.

counselor - A person called to serve as an adviser, assistant, and occasional substitute for an officer or leader in the Church. (See Concept of Presidency)

court (Church) - A term formerly used to mean a Church disciplinary council.

crickets (Mormon) - A type of cricket that threatened the crops of early Mormon pioneers. The crops were saved when large flocks of seagulls came and devoured the crickets.

Cumorah - (1) A hill in which the Book of Mormon prophet Mormon concealed sacred records before the annihilation of his people; (2) the hill in New York State, near the town of Palmyra, where Joseph Smith unearthed the gold plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon.


damnation - (1) The opposite of salvation; (2) to be stopped in one's spiritual progress; (3) the suffering of various degrees of penalty at the final judgment by those who have not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and repented of their sins.

Danites - A small and briefly organized band of Mormon militia men in 1838 who became the source for anti-Mormon legends.

deacon - An office in the Aaronic Priesthood.

degrees of glory - The celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms in heaven.

denying the Holy Ghost - (1) In general terms, rejecting a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost; (2) another term for blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which is an unpardonable sin.

deseret - A Book of Mormon word meaning "honey bee," often used in titles of LDS institutions or by businesses in areas with concentrated LDS populations.

devils - Those spirits who chose to follow Lucifer in his revolt against God in the premortal existence.

disciplinary procedures - The process of bringing a Church member before a priesthood officer or disciplinary council to account for alleged transgressions against Church standards and to take necessary steps toward repentance.

discussion (missionary term) - A structured lesson on basic gospel principles presented to interested nonmembers.

disfellowshipment - A disciplinary action against a Church member that severely restricts participation in Church activity but falls short of excommunication.  (See Disciplinary Procedures)

dispensation (of the gospel, of the fulness of times) - A period of time in which priesthood authority and keys are established among mankind. The present dispensation, the last before the second coming of Christ, is called the "fulness of times."

distribution centers - Centrally located outlets from which Church publications and other supplies are distributed.

district - (1) An ecclesiastical unit consisting of several branches of the Church in a geographic area where stakes are not organized; (2) a unit of organization in missions, consisting of missionaries and presided over by an experienced missionary called the district leader.

Doctrine and Covenants - A volume of Latter-day Saint scripture containing selected revelations given to Joseph Smith and his successors in the presidency of the Church.


early morning seminary - LDS religion courses for high school students offered before the normal school day begins.

elder - An office in the Melchizedek Priesthood; a title designating a holder of this priesthood, a General Authority, or a male missionary.

elder brother - A name or title of Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all Heavenly Father's spirit children.

elders quorum - A group consisting of men holding the office of elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Elohim - God the Father.

endowment - Ordinances of instruction and covenant performed by and for individuals in temples.

enduring to the end - The doctrine that converted individuals must continue to show their faith through good works till the end of mortal life.

Enoch, book of - A record kept by Enoch, yet to be revealed (D&C 107:57).

Ensign - Since 1971, the official monthly periodical published by the Church.

Ephraim - The son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and heir to the birthright. The patriarchal blessings of many Latter-day Saints declare them to be of the lineage of Ephraim.

eternal life - Exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom; often spoken of as "eternal lives."

eternal progression - Endless increase in glory and dominion.

eternity - A synonym for "endless" as contrasted to things of mortality.

evangelist - The office of patriarch in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Eve - The first woman. Latter-day Saints view her as one of the greatest and noblest of all women.

exaltation - Attainment of the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom.

excommunication - A disciplinary action against a Church member in which membership is withdrawn. (See Disciplinary Procedures)


family history, genealogy - Activity in the LDS Church that involves tracing one's lineage and composing ancestral histories.

Family History Library - The Church's repository of genealogical and historical data, the largest of its kind in the world, with branch libraries in more than 1,400 stake centers.

family home evening - A program in which families gather (usually on Monday evening) for family-centered spiritual training and social activities.

Family Registry™ - A service provided by the Family History Department of the Church to help people who are doing research on the same family lines to cooperate and share results.

FamilySearch™ - An automated computer system designed to simplify the task of family history research.

fast offerings - Donations of at least the value of meals not eaten on fast Sunday, given to the bishop for the relief of the needy.

Fast Sunday - Usually the first Sunday of each month, on which Church members refrain from food or drink for two meals and donate the equivalent cost to the Church to assist the poor and needy. The sacrament meeting on each fast Sunday, called fast and testimony meeting, is devoted to the voluntary bearing of testimony by members.

fellowshipping members - The activity of encouraging established Church members to help new or inactive members to participate in Church practices.

firesides - Informal gatherings of Church members and friends, often in homes and usually on Sundays, that feature a speaker or program of a spiritual theme. Occasionally Churchwide firesides are held under the direction of the First Presidency.

First Presidency - The President of the Church and his counselors; the highest ranking quorum in the Church.

first principles and ordinances of the gospel - Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion in water for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

First Vision - The initial appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 near Palmyra, New York, marking the beginning of the restoration of the gospel.

following the brethren - Heeding the counsel of local and general leaders of the Church.

food storage - A supply of food necessary to sustain life for a year. Church leaders encourage members, where possible, to store food, clothing, fuel, and other items in preparation for emergencies.

foreordination - The doctrine that individuals were called and set apart in the premortal existence to perform certain roles in mortal life, should they so choose. free agency (See agency.)

Friend, The - Since 1971, the Church periodical for children.

fulness of the gospel - The doctrine, ordinances, authority, and organization necessary to enable individuals to attain salvation.


Gabriel - A person spoken of in Daniel 8:16 and Luke 1:11-19, identified as Noah by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

garments - Sacred ceremonial undergarments associated with temple covenants.

General Authorities - Members of the presiding lay leadership of the Church: the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Quorums of the Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric.

general conference - General assemblies of Church members in Salt Lake City, regularly convened every April and October.

Gentile(s) - According to the context in which it is used, the following meanings are possible for Latter-day Saints: (1) one not of the lineage of Israel; (2) a non-Latter-day Saint; (3) one who is not Jewish; (4) one who is not a Lamanite.

gold plates - The anciently engraved metal plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.

gospel - The "good news" of redemption through Jesus Christ; the principles and ordinances of the plan of salvation.

grace - Divine help given through the mercy of Jesus Christ. It is an enabling power that allows men and women to receive eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

great and abominable church - All assemblies, congregations, or associations of people not authorized by God and that fight against God and his purposes


heaven - (1) The dwelling place of God; (2) any kingdom of glory.

hell - (1) The condition of misery one may feel after sinning; (2) the temporary dwelling place of the unrepentant till the judgment day.

high council (high councilor) - A group of twelve high priests (and sometimes alternates) who help direct the affairs of a stake.

high priest - An office in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Holy Ghost - The third member of the Godhead, a personage of Spirit.

homemaking - One of three areas of emphasis in the Relief Society of the Church.

home teaching - A Church program in which priesthood holders regularly visit assigned homes of members.


Improvement Era, The - An official publication of the Church, 1897-1970.

Indian student placement - The practice of bringing LDS American Indian children to live in LDS homes during the school year.

Inspired Version of the Bible - Another name for the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

institutes of religion - Weekday religious instruction for students attending colleges, universities, and other postsecondary schools.

investigator (missionary term) - A person who is interested in the Church and is receiving missionary instruction.

iron rod - An image from Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon, meaning "the word of God"-suggesting straitness and security.

Israel - (1) Members of the Church; (2) the Old Testament patriarch Jacob and his descendants.


Jehovah - Another name for Jesus Christ, particularly in the Old Testament.

Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) - The translation of the Bible by Joseph Smith, begun in 1830, which resulted in his receiving many doctrinal revelations.

Journal of Discourses - A collection of sermons by LDS leaders, 1854-1886 (26 volumes); it is not an official source for Church doctrine.


keys of the priesthood - The right to exercise or direct authority, perform ordinances, or to preside over a priesthood function, quorum, or Church organization.

kingdom of God - (1) God's dominion; (2) the Church; (3) the political government of God.


Lamanites - (1) An Israelite people in the Book of Mormon, descendants of Joseph of Egypt through Lehi and Ishmael; (2) today, many American Indians. (See Book of Mormon Peoples)

Latter-day Saint - A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

laying on of hands - The placing of hands by those holding priesthood authority on the head of a member to confer authority, office, calling, or blessing.

Levitical Priesthood - The lesser priesthood. (See also Aaronic Priesthood.)

Light of Christ - The power of Christ infused in all creation.

line of authority - (1) A priesthood bearer's "priesthood lineage," that is, a sequential listing of ordinations tracing one's own priesthood authority through priesthood leaders to the apostles and Jesus Christ. [See Appendix 10.]


magnifying one's calling - Measuring up to the duties to which one may be called.

Manifesto of 1890 - The pronouncement that the Church had officially ended the practice of polygamy.

marriage, eternal - The doctrine that the bonds of marriage may continue into the eternities if a man and a woman are sealed in a temple and continue faithful to their covenants.

martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith - The murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844.

marvelous work and a wonder - A reference to a prophecy of Isaiah (29:1-14) concerning the restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

Melchizedek Priesthood - The higher priesthood, including the offices of elder, seventy, high priest, patriarch, and apostle, and focused upon the spiritual things of the gospel (cf. with Aaronic Priesthood).

membership record - The official certificate of membership in the Church kept at Church headquarters.

Michael - The archangel, identified in LDS teachings as Adam.

Millennial Star - The official publication of the Church in the United Kingdom, 1840-1970.

missionary discussions - Basic gospel lessons missionaries use to teach interested people about the Church and its doctrines.

missionary training centers (MTC) - Centers where formally called missionaries are instructed and trained before departure to assigned missions.

Mormonism, Mormons - Unofficial terms for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members; members prefer to use the official name of the Church and to be referred to as Latter-day Saints.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir - The large lay choir that broadcasts weekly from Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Moroni - (1) A Nephite military leader, c. 60 Be; (2) a Book of Mormon prophet, c. AD 420 who in 1827, as a resurrected being, gave Joseph Smith the gold plates from which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. A statue of Moroni is placed atop some mormon temples and on the hill Cumorah.

Mother in Heaven - The teaching that spirits born on this earth have their premortal origins with a literal Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father.

Mountain Meadows Massacre - An incident in which certain Indian and Southern Utah Mormons participated in the massacre of a wagon train of immigrants passing through the Territory of Utah, 1857.

Mutual - The Church's auxiliary organization for youth ages twelve through eighteen, for many years called the Mutual Improvement Association, or MIA.


Name Extraction Program - Systematic transcription of genealogical information from original vital records.

New Era - Since 1971, the Church periodical for young people.

new and everlasting covenant - The gospel of Jesus Christ. All covenants between God and mankind are part of the new and everlasting covenant.

New Jerusalem - The administrative headquarters of the kingdom of God in the Western Hemisphere during Christ's millennial reign.


office - (1) A position of authority, duty, or trust in the Church organization; (2) an ordained calling or assignment to serve in the priesthood.

ordinances - A performance or prescribed ceremony related to the reception of a blessing, covenant, or ordination, such as baptism, confirmation, endowment, marriage, etc., performed by one who has been ordained to the priesthood and authorized to perform the ordinance.

outer darkness - A region totally removed from the light and glory of God, to which Satan and his followers will be consigned.


paradise - The dwelling place of the spirits of the righteous dead who await resurrection and judgment.

patriarch - (1) An office in the Melchizedek Priesthood; (2) a holder of that. office in the Melchizedek Priesthood who gives patriarchal blessings; (3) an evangelist; (4) the father of a family.

patriarchal blessing - A formal blessing given by an ordained patriarch in which the recipient's lineage from one of the tribes of Israel is usually declared, exhortations are given, and spiritual gifts and life-missions are specified.

Pearl of Great Price - One of the standard works of the Church, containing the book of Moses, the book of Abraham, Joseph Smith—Matthew (a translation of Matthew 24), the Joseph Smith-History, and the Articles of Faith.

Personal Ancestral File® (PAF) - A genealogical software package produced by the Church.

Pioneer Day - July 24, celebration of the anniversary of the arrival of the Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

plan of salvation - The plan presented in the premortal existence providing for the creation, fall, probation, death, resurrection, judgment, salvation, and exaltation of mankind.

plural marriage - The doctrine that a man may be authorized by revelation from God through the living prophet to have more than one living wife.

polygamy - The practice of having more than one wife; more accurately, polygyny.

preexistence - (See premortal life.)

premortal life - The doctrine of life as a spirit being before mortality. It is also called pre-earthly existence or antemortal life.

Presiding Bishop - A General Authority under the First Presidency who directs the temporal affairs of the Church, assisted by two counselors; together they compose the Presiding Bishopric.

priest - An office in the Aaronic Priesthood.

priestcraft - Misuse of priesthood authority or spiritual gifts to gain personal influence or money.

priesthood - (1) The power of God; (2) the authority to act in God's name; (3) the right and responsibility to preside within the Church organization; (4) a term referring to the men of the Church in general.

priesthood blessings - Blessings of counsel and divine influence conferred by the authority of the priesthood.

priesthood offices - Specific appointments to positions of authority or of responsibility in the priesthood.

priesthood quorum - An organized body of male members who hold the same priesthood office.

Primary - The auxiliary organization in the Church for children from ages eighteen months through eleven years.

promised land - In Book of Mormon usage, usually the Western Hemisphere.

prophet - (1) When capitalized, often refers to Joseph Smith; (2) when not capitalized, it can refer to the President of the Church, or any authorized spokesman for God; (3) one who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost has the "spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10).

prophet, seer, and revelator - The special powers and functions held by members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

proselyte (verb) - An LDS variant of "proselytize," that is, to invite others to convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


quorum (See priesthood quorum.)

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles - The body of twelve men who, under the direction of the First Presidency, constitute the second-highest presiding quorum of the Church.

Quorums of the Seventy - General Authorities organized in bodies of up to seventy members. Under supervision of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, they direct missionary and other administrative activities of the Church.


reformed Egyptian - A set of characters used by Book of Mormon writers on metal plates because of their conciseness.

Regional Representative - A specially called priesthood leader who serves in a teaching and training capacity between stake leaders and an Area Presidency. Each region consists of several stakes.

Relief Society - The adult women's auxiliary organization of the Church.

Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - A church that arose in response to the schism that followed the June 27, 1844, murder of Joseph Smith. Formally organized on April 6, 1860, at Amboy, Illinois.

restoration - (1) The reestablishment of the ancient gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith in the latter days; (2) the culmination of God's work on the earth in the latter days, including the restoration of the gospel, the gathering of Israel, and the renewal of the earth; (3) the returning of good for good, or evil for evil, in the last judgment (Alma 41:13). (See Restoration of the Gospel home page)

returned missionary - One who has completed a full-time mission for the Church.

roadshow - A brief, original dramatic production, often presented at two or more locations within a stake.


sacrament - The water and bread blessed and distributed as emblems of the body and blood of Jesus Christ to Church members in ward or branch meetings.

sacrament meeting - The principal worship meeting of the Church, during which the sacrament of the Lord's supper is blessed and distributed to members of the Church. The members also pray, sing, and hear sermons.

Sacred Grove - The grove of trees near Palmyra/ Manchester, New York, in which in 1820 Joseph Smith received his First Vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Saints - Faithful members of the Church.

salvation - Resurrection to a kingdom of glory; sometimes used to signify exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

saved - (1) To be delivered from physical death by the grace of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; (2) to be delivered from the consequences of personal sin by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and obedience to the commandments of God.

scriptures (See Standard Works.)

sealed portion of the plates - A segment of the gold plates that Joseph Smith obtained from the hill Cumorah, containing a revelation from the beginning to the end of the world. This segment was not translated by Joseph Smith.

sealing - (1) Through the power of the priesthood, making valid in heaven an action performed on earth; (2) the temple ordinance joining husband and wife or children and parents for time and eternity.

Second Comforter - A name-title for Jesus Christ. (See Comforter.)

seer - A person endowed with a special gift of seeing spiritually the past, present, and the future. (See Prophet, Seer and Revelator)

seer stones - Sacred stones that, when used by a person with the gift of seership, reveal the past, present, and future. (See Urim and Thummim.)

self-reliance - The principle that individual Church members and families should, to the extent possible, provide and plan for their own necessities.

seminaries - The weekday religious instruction program of the Church for secondary-school students.

setting apart - The authorization of an individual, by the laying on of hands to serve in a calling in the Church.

Seventy - An office in the Melchizedek Priesthood, with a special calling to missionary service or to administrative duties. Today all the Seventy are General Authorities.

sick, blessing the - An ordinance in which ill persons are anointed with consecrated olive oil and blessed by Melchizedek Priesthood holders, to the end that healing may take place. (See Anointing.)

single adults - Adult Church members who are not married.

Social Services - A separate corporation from the Church (called LDS Social Services) which serves as a resource for meeting special social and emotional needs of Church members.

solemn assemblies - Special assemblies of priesthood holders, generally held in temples.

sons of perdition - Individuals who have sinned against the Holy Ghost and have thus committed the unpardonable sin.

soul - The united spirit and body. All living things on earth are souls, meaning they consist of a spirit body and a physical body.

spirit body - A being formed of refined element, with which a physical body of earthly element. unites to form a soul. Human spirits are literally children of God.

spirit prison - The place where the spirits of the dead, particularly the untaught and nonrighteous, await resurrection and judgment.

spirit world - The place where the spirits of the dead await resurrection and judgment; it consists of paradise, prison, and hell.

stake - A geographical-ecclesiastical unit of the Church, composed of several wards and sometimes branches.

stake center - A meetinghouse of the Church in which the administrative offices of stake leaders are also located.

stake president - The presiding authority of a stake.

standard works - The canonized Latter-day Saint scriptures: Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. (The latter three, when bound under one cover, are often called the "Triple Combination.")

Stick of Joseph - A biblical term having reference to the Book of Mormon, which is a record of a remnant of the posterity of Joseph who was sold into Egypt (Ezek. 37:15-19).

Stick of Judah - A biblical term having reference to the Bible, being a record of the Jews and preserved by the prophets of Judah and by the apostles (Ezek. 37:15-19).


tabernacle (1) The physical body in which a person's spirit dwells during earth life; (2) a special building used for assemblies, such as the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

teacher - An office in the Aaronic Priesthood.

telestial kingdom - The lowest of three degrees of glory; inherited by the wicked after they have suffered for their sins.

temple - A sacred building, the "House of the Lord," in which Latter-day Saints perform sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel for themselves and for the dead.

temple marriage - A term for a marriage solemnized by an eternal covenant in a Latter-day Saint temple.

temple ordinances - Sacred ceremonies performed in Latter-day Saint temples.

temple recommend - A certificate of worthiness to participate in temple ordinances.

Temple Square - A ten-acre city block in Salt Lake City on which the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle, and adjacent buildings are located.

ten tribes - Those tribes of the house of Israel carried captive into Assyria c. 721 BC; known as the lost tribes of Israel because they became lost to the people and records of the Bible. Prophecy proclaims their return in the latter days. (See Israel)

terrestrial kingdom - The middle of the three degrees of glory; inherited by "honorable" people of the earth who did not accept the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

testimony - A personal expression of one's convictions or beliefs about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

time and eternity - A term suggesting that gospel ordinances and blessings are valid forever, both on earth and in the heavens.

tithing - The donation of one-tenth of one's increase (income) to the Church.

topical guide - An index and concordance to the standard works of the Church; contained in the LDS publication of the Bible.

translated beings - Individuals who are changed in mortality so that they do not experience physical pain and whose death and resurrection will be in a "twinkling of the eye"; Enoch, Elijah, and John the Beloved are examples.

triple combination (- See Standard Works.)


united orders - Social and economic orders in which Church members, in an act of consecration, deed their property to a bishop, who allots stewardships and resources according to need. It is not currently being practiced in the Church.

unpardonable sin - The sin against the Holy Ghost.

Urim and Thummim - Two stones set in "silver bows," and often associated with a breastplate, given to Joseph Smith to aid in the translation of the Book of Mormon and in receiving other revelations. The Urim and Thummim mentioned in the Bible are probably not the same as those possessed by Joseph Smith.


visiting teaching - A Church program in which members of the Relief Society are assigned to visit regularly other sisters to give brief instruction and support.

visitors centers - Reception centers of the Church, at temples and historic sites, to introduce visitors to the history and doctrine of the Church.


war in heaven - The conflict between Lucifer and Jesus Christ, and their followers, in the premortal existence.

ward - A geographic ecclesiastical unit in the Church, consisting of several hundred members presided over by a bishop.

washings and anointings - Initiatory temple ordinances, preliminary to endowment.

welfare - A plan and program in the Church administered by priesthood officers and the Relief Society which attends to the temporal well-being of needy members and admonishes all members to become serf-reliant.

welfare square - A geographic block in Salt Lake City reflecting the emphasis in the Church on storing food and other commodities for emergencies.

word of wisdom - The revealed health code of the Church, as set forth in section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants.


year's supply - A supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel and other items necessary to sustain life for a year. Church leaders encourage members, where possible, to store such items as a principle of management and in preparation for an emergency.

young adult - The program in the Church for young single members.

young men - The instruction and activity program in the Church for young men ages twelve to eighteen.

young women - The instruction and activity program in the Church for young women ages twelve to eighteen.


Zion - A word meaning the "pure in heart"; also a geographic location where the righteous are gathered by obedience to the gospel.

zone - A unit of organization within the boundaries of a mission. Typically, several zones compose a mission.


by Robert W. Blair

Although Latter-day Saints share with other Christian faiths a general Judeo-Christian linguistic heritage, "Mormon language" includes many words and phrases that have distinctive meanings. Also, many words commonly used in other branches of Christianity are not common in LDS language.

From scripture and the religious vocabulary of the western world, LDS language inherits such words as "angel," "apostle," "Atonement," "baptism," "covenant," "damnation," "deacon," "exaltation," "the Fall," "glory," "God," "heaven," "hell," "Israelite," "judgment," "Messiah," "oath," "patriarch," "priesthood," "prophet," "redemption," "repentance," "resurrection," "Sacrament," "saint," "salvation," "sin," "soul," "tabernacle," "temple," "Urim and Thummim," and "Zion." Even though these words come from a common heritage, most of them have significantly different connotations in LDS vocabularies, as do many other words.

Conspicuously absent from LDS language, or used infrequently, are many terms of other Christian cultures, such as "abbot," "archbishop," "beatification," "cardinal," "catechism," "creed," "diocese," "eucharist," "host," "limbo," "outward sign," "inward grace," "minister," "parish," "pastor," "preacher," "purgatory," "radio or television evangelist," "rapture," "rectory," "sanctuary," and "Trinity."

LDS language is likewise distinctive in terms of address and titles. Members address one another as "Brother" and "Sister" in preference to "Mister" or "Mrs.," or a professional title such as "Professor" or "Doctor." Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood offices are almost never used as titles of address, with the notable exception of "Bishop" and "Elder," and the latter term may apply to any male Church leader (but is usually reserved for missionaries and members of presiding councils—the Twelve and the Seventy). The only other frequently used title is "President," a term widely used for both men and women in a presiding position in many of the units of the Church.

Unique names found in the Book of Mormon have been carried over into given names for places and persons, such as Abinadi, Ammon, Ether, Korihor, Laman, Lehi, Moroni, Nephi, and Zoram. Alma, usually a woman's name in English and Spanish, is a man's name in the Book of Mormon and in many older LDS families. LDS colonizers honored settlements with Book of Mormon names such as Lehi, Moroni, and Nephi. Other unique or uniquely used LDS words include "Deseret," "Kolob," "Liahona," "disfellowship," and "telestial." Some terms also have specialized meanings in reference to LDS temples, such as "baptism by proxy," "celestial room," "temple recommend," "sealings," "Endowment," and "garment."

Problems with the transfer of English connotations into other languages are extensive. Distinctions in LDS theology have led some LDS translators to avoid literal transliteration of commonly used terms in favor of coining a new word, borrowing the English word, or reviving an archaic term.

Because of the worldwide missionary program of the Church and the immigration of converts from many lands to the United States, there is a high level of language-consciousness among Church members. Brigham Young University has among its 27,000 students an unusually high percentage (up to one-third) who speak and read languages learned during missionary service. The "gift of tongues" is often spoken of in reference to missionaries' ability to learn languages rapidly, although the term is also used in reference to biblical modes of speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues (cf. D&C 46:24-25).

Since its organization in 1973, the Deseret Language and Linguistics Society has solicited papers for its annual symposium on all aspects of LDS language, and a selection of these papers has been published annually since 1974.


Harris, John B., and William A. Wilson. "And They Spake with a New Tongue (on Missionary Slang)." In Conference on the Language of the Mormons, ed. Harold S. Madsen and John L. Sorenson, pp. 46-48. Provo, Utah, 1974.

McNaughton, Patricia T. "Ordinary Language for Special Purposes." DLLS Annual Symposium (Brigham Young University). Provo, Utah, 1979.

Monson, Samuel C. "Some Observations on the Language of Hymns." DLLS Annual Symposium (Brigham Young University). Provo, Utah, 1979.



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