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.


  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

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.

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