11 words that mean something completely different for Latter-day Saints


There are so many common words that mean something completely different for Latter-day Saints. If you’re a member of the Church, you probably know these all too well, but if you’re new to the culture, you’ll want to keep this list of words handy so you’re not disappointed when you don’t get a delicious steak at the stake center.

1. Ward 

Ward has many different meanings in the dictionary, but for a Latter-day Saint, the word is used to describe a congregation that meets together every Sunday for their meetings. The congregation is often made up of Church members in a certain area or neighborhood. 

2. Stake

Not to be confused with “steak,” a stake consists of multiple wards in a certain area. The stake center or stake house is where some wards meet for their Sunday meetings and where the whole stake can meet together for activities or conferences. 

3. Primary

This word is typically used to define the beginning of something or a set of colors, but Church members use “Primary” to describe Latter-day Saint children under the age of 12. 

4. Blessing

Latter-day Saints use this word in a few different ways. We ask someone to say a blessing on the food before eating and we count our many blessings, but we also give and ask for priesthood blessings. These occur when a priesthood holder lays his hands on someone’s head and gives them a blessing of healing, comfort, strength, or anything else they might be needing at the time. 

5. Fireside

When I was younger, I was so excited to participate in firesides with the youth. I thought they all went up into the mountains and sat around a fire to chat about life, which would make sense with the name “fireside.” But I couldn’t have been more wrong! These meetings are typically held in church buildings and often require Sunday attire. They are usually for the youth (and sometimes adults), and guest speakers are invited to talk. The meetings are really great, but I was a little disappointed when I found out there wasn’t an actual fire involved. 

6. Mutual 

“Mutual” typically refers to something people have in common, but Latter-day Saints better know it as a weekly gathering where the youth participate in planned activities. 

7. Elder

Instead of calling them by their first names, male missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called “Elder,” followed by their last name. These young men definitely don’t match the traditional meaning of the word meaning “older” or “elderly,” being in their late teens or 20s. 

8. Sister

This is the same idea as Elder but with female missionaries. Female missionaries go by “sister,” followed by their last name. The same term is used for all female members of the Church, while the men are called "brother," though they’re often not biologically related. 

9. Mission 

It’s normal to think of Mission: Impossible when you see this word, but that’s not the case for Latter-day Saints. Young adults ages 18–20 receive personalized calls to serve missions all over the world. Men serve for two years while women serve for 18 months, and they spend their time teaching the gospel, serving others, and helping people come to know Jesus Christ. 

10. Farewell and Homecoming

These words seem self-explanatory as saying goodbye and coming home (or in referring to a popular high school dance), but they’re a little different in the Church. Some members use “farewell” to refer to the sacrament meeting where someone gives a talk in sacrament meeting before embarking on a full-time mission. When someone has their homecoming, they give a talk and report on their missionary experiences. 

11. Conference

Conference, also known as general conference, is the highlight of many Latter-day Saints’ year. Our prophet, apostles, and Church leaders gather to teach and testify of the Savior and other topics semi-annually, and the event is broadcast all over the world.

Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content