Jehovah's Witnesses glossary

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Jehovah's Witnesses have an extremely idiosyncratic vocabulary. Not only do they avoid many standard Christian terms such as "church" and "cross", they also use some everyday words such as "publisher" and "hall" in radically different ways.

As with other cults, religious, political or otherwise, the use of distinctive vocabulary helps establish an in- and an out-group. Constant changes in the vocabulary also allow people to recognize when someone has not been keeping up to date.


360 years[edit]

See 1914.


See 1914.


See the main article on this topic: 666

666 is the symbol of Satan's visible organisation, which Jehovah's Witnesses believe to be all human governments.[1]


Because of an alleged prophecy in Daniel 4, the original JW believed that Jesus began to rule in 607 BCE, that there will be Seven Times after 607 BCE until a certain generation is born, that Armageddon will begin before that generation passes away, that these Seven Times are Symbolic Times and actually mean 360 years each (for a total of 2520 years), and that therefore the generation which observed the "events of 1914" (the start of WW1) will also see the Armageddon. Given that this is no longer possible,[2] JW teachings have shifted to the overlapping generation idea.[3]

This is literally the foundation of all of JW belief[4]

Other JW predictions of the end of the world were for 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941 1975, 1994, 1997 (list of predictions of the end of the world).


See Anointed Class.


Abomination of Desolation[edit]

An obsolete term for the United Nations. Since all governments are satanically controlled, any attempt to set up a one world system is even more frowned upon. Nowadays it is referred to as the "disgusting thing that is causing desolation".

Accounts servant[edit]

The local treasurer, book keeper or clerk.

Accurate knowledge[edit]

The understanding of things as given by the organization.

Active force[edit]

The Holy Spirit.


An annual commemoration acceptable to JWs, such as a wedding anniversary. Celebrating Christmas or birthdays is strictly verboten.

Don Adams[edit]

Don Adams was elected sixth WBTS president in 2000.


See the main article on this topic: Alcohol

Witnesses regard alcohol as a gift from Jehovah that must be used in moderation. Contrary to popular belief, JWs are not teetotal (unlike Mormons etc.)


See the main article on this topic: Armageddon

The Armageddon is a world-encompassing battle that will occur in the near future. During Armageddon, all people and all institutions not affiliated with the JW will be destroyed. King Jesus and His heavenly host will battle with Satan and his armies. Satan will be defeated. Afterwards, the Anointed Class will live with King Jesus in a spiritual heaven.

Anointed Class[edit]

After Armageddon, the 144,000 people in the Anointed Class will live in a spiritual heaven with King Jesus. All other faithful JW (the Great Crowd or Other Sheep) and a selected group of resurrected people will live on a paradise-like Earth for one millennium (1,000 years). The number 144,000 appears in three places in the Book of Revelation: Revelation 7:3-8 (as the sum of 12 tribes of Israel of 12,000 each), Revelation 14:1 and Revelation 14:3-5.


A type of regional conference where various local congregations meet together. It happens several times a year. An assembly hall is a larger kingdom hall used for such purposes.


Awake! is a semimonthly magazine published by WBTS focused on family and religion.


Back calls[edit]

Return visits to someone who appears/ed to express an interest in joining. These are heavily encouraged even when the person is politely disinterested. These are all noted and recorded in back call book. See return calls.

Bad association[edit]

Mixing with someone who is disfellowshipped, hostile to the church etc, which is severely frowned upon, even when it is family members. The opposite of shunning.

Bad attitude[edit]

Someone who works at Bethel who is perceived to be out of line.


See the main article on this topic: Baptism

A candidate approved by the WBTS is baptized (immersed in water) during a public meeting. Mass baptisms of new recruits often occur at a circuit assembly. JWs do not baptize babies.


JWs actually prefer BCE to BC.


Bethel is the official headquarters of the WBTS located at 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, NY. It is used as a metonym for said head quarters. Someone who works there is known as a Bethelite.

Bible Students[edit]

A name for early JWs, now obsolete. Some of the various splinter groups still use it.

Bible Study[edit]

Bible Study is an intermediate step in becoming a JW. Faithful JW stress a literal belief in the Bible and try to engage interested people in home Bible studies. After progressing from return calls and Good Will Personhood, Bible study encourage people to people gain personal and religious connections with local JW members.


See the main article on this topic: Blood Transfusions: How Safe

JW teachings hold that the soul is in the blood, citing Leviticus 17:11 and Leviticus 17:14. As a result, JW believe that blood transfusions are comparable to cannibalism and refuse to have them. This results in several hundred deaths per year.


Bloodguilt occurs when somebody [1] causes bloodshed (ie, contributes to someone's death), which includes supporting a blood-guilty organization or [2] fails to preach the good news or [3] eats, drinks, or receives blood in any way.

Book Room[edit]

A library or stockpile of books, pamphlets and magazines which are kept in each kingdom hall for publishers to distribute. As internet usage has increased, its importance has waned.

Branch Committee[edit]

A Branch Committee is appointed by the WBTS to have oversight of JW congregations for an entire country or group of countries.


Caleb and Sophia[edit]

Caleb and Sophia is an animated series of short videos aimed at children produced by the WBTS that spreads propagandistic messages in service to the organization.

Car captain[edit]

Someone who arranges motor transport for publishers to do field service.


JWs do not use AD.


Christendom is a derogatory term for Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic groups, which JW teachings claim to have been established around 300-399 CE by the unbaptized Roman emperor Constantine the Great.Wikipedia


JWs do not use the term "church", which they believe to be pagan. Their meeting houses are called "kingdom halls" instead.


A circuit is a group of about 20 JW congregations.

Circuit overseer[edit]

A circuit overseer is the supervisor of the circuit and visits each congregation two or three times a year.

Circuit assembly[edit]

A circuit assembly occurs when member congregations of a circuit gather at specified times, often to hold mass baptisms of new converts.

Come into the truth[edit]

When someone is converted into Jaydubbery.


Used much as its secular meaning to describe large gatherings, often tens of thousands.


See Impalement.


See Impalement'.



Possessed by demons. Not only applied to people, but also certain objects. JWs are sometimes suspicious that second hand items have been demonized and may cause sickness or bad luck in their homes.


Role playing practice for field service. A form of training for speaking to non-members. Because many JWs are out of touch with most modern worldly realities, they are often comically different to what publishers will actually experience, which can often lead them to being bewildered.

Disassociation letter[edit]

This is a letter of resignation, often requested from someone who has joined the military or another religion. This saves local elders paperwork. Many apostates walk away without doing this.


Disfellowship, also referred to as expulsion or excommunication, occurs when the WBTS judges a JW member as unfaithful. Common crimes include adultery, homosexuality, dishonesty, "idolatry", "apostasy", or "divisiveness". For lesser crimes, a JW member is usually suspended for one year and then given an opportunity for reinstatement. For greater crimes, the offending member may only be accepted back if he or she displays sincere repentance. The official JW position is that disfellowshipping is a "loving provision", but those who are disfellowshipped are shunned by other JW members, including family and friends,[5] which is often a substantial hardship for the person who is disfellowshipped.[6]

District overseer[edit]

A district overseer supervises several circuits and is responsible for conducting circuit assemblies. The overseer spends one week in the circuit for each assembly.



The local leadership of a given area are known as elders rather than priests etc, always male.


The bread and wine as used in the JW version of communion.

Evil slave class[edit]

People who become apostates after many decades of membership.

Expulsion or expelling[edit]

See disfellowship.



Printing plants where publications such as Watchtower are produced. As internet use increases, these are becoming less important.

Faithful and discreet slave[edit]

The faithful and discreet slave is the group of males who govern the organisation as a whole.

Field service[edit]

Missionary work, which is conducted by all members. When one of them knocks on your door, it is field service.

Frederick Franz[edit]

Frederick Franz was elected fourth WBTS president in 1977.


Gentile times[edit]

The Gentile times when Jews were in disfavor with Jehovah were between 607 BCE to 1914.


See the main article on this topic: Goat

A goat is a sane person who is not interested in a JW evangelist's return calls or Bible study.

Good Will Person[edit]

A Good Will Person is a person who is interested in Bible study and who is a prospective member of Jehovah's Witnesses. Those who are not interested are called a goat.

Governing Body[edit]

The governing body is a select committee of about 15 WBTS leaders that determines and establishes all doctrines and practices of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Great Crowd[edit]

See Anointed Class.

Greek Scriptures[edit]

The New Testament, also the Christian Greek Scriptures.



A headship refers either to [1] the family leadership role of the husband (who is the "wife-head") or [2] the leadership roles of people within the WTBS.

Hebrew Scriptures[edit]

The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible.


See the main article on this topic: Hell

The WBTS does not believe it is a place of torment or fire. They reject the doctrine of eternal punishment, saying all non-Jehovah's Witnesses will be annihilated at the final judgment.


A non-member visited by JWs; not necessarily one who lets them in.


JWs never call their songbooks such nowadays, but have done in the past.



The International Bible Students Association (IBSA) group supervises JW ministries in Canada and England. The IBSA arises out of the Bible Student movementWikipedia.

The one and only true religion


See the main article on this topic: Crucifixion

JW's believe that the crucifix (two-piece cross) is a phallic symbol adopted from pagans in the third century CE. instead, Jesus Christ was impaled and died upon an upright stake. WBTS translates the Greek "stauros" as "upright stake".

Inactive publisher[edit]

A member who has not been going out doing missionary work, which puts one in bad standing.

Independent thinking[edit]

A pejorative phrase for someone who gets their own ideas, which is not seen as a good thing.



This is the term JWs use to refer to God the Father, and is used in place of "God", "Lord" etc in the New World Translation and JW parlance. It is an old fashioned transliteration of YHWH. JWs do not consider Jehovah and Jesus to be the same person in a trinity.

Judicial committee[edit]

A kind of kangaroo court in which a disobedient member will find themselves. Many will be disfellowshipped, but some will as be reintegrated. An appeal committee is the group which reviews these judgements and lets people back in.


Kingdom Hall[edit]

A Kingdom Hall is a JW place of worship comparable to a chapel; the term was created by Joseph Franklin Rutherford. The word "church" is not used.

Kingdom Privilege[edit]

Or K.P., chores such as cleaning the Kingdom Halls. (Facetious)


Last days[edit]

The degenerate time we live in now.


Manuscript talk[edit]

A talk which is read word for word from an official publication.

Marking talk[edit]

When a member of the congregation is marked out as having done something undesirable. The person is not excommunicated as such, but also not invited to social activities until this is lifted.


This term is used in two ways: a memorial can be a member's funeral, or the commemoration of the Last Supper (equivalent to Communion elsewhere) which is only celebrated once a year.


The archangel who JWs think is one and the same as Jesus.


See Annointed Class.

Milton Henschel[edit]

Milton Henschel was elected fifth WBTS president in 1992.

Move ahead[edit]

i.e. producing new doctrine etc.


Nathan Knorr[edit]

Nathan Knorr was elected third WBTS president in 1942.


JWs' refusal to join the military, aid war effort, participate in politics etc. This has frequently landed the movement in trouble with secular authorities.

New light[edit]

Whenever doctrine is changed, or a new doctrine brought in, this is called new light. This applies particularly to alterations of Biblical interpretation and prophecy. The organisation is considered never to be wrong.

New System[edit]

The forthcoming system which will be controlled exclusively by Jehovah.

Non-trinitarian churches[edit]

This is a polite way by non-JWs to distinguish JWs, Mormons, Christadelphians, Christian Scientists etc from mainstream Christianity, because they do not believe in the Trinity.


The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is the official translation of the Bible by the WBTS in English. It contains many idiosyncratic renderings, in line with JW doctrine, such as the use of "Jehovah" throughout the New Testament.


On reproof[edit]

A member who is not disfellowshipped, but is on notice and is disallowed from certain things, such as commenting on meetings. They are not restricted from field service however.

Other Sheep[edit]

See Anointed Class.

Overlapping generation[edit]

Matthew 24:34 states:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things [that will lead up to the great tribulation before the Armageddon] be fulfilled.

JW originally believed that the generation that witnessed the events of 1914 would live to see the great tribulation. However, because this can no longer occur,[2] the WBTS now argues that Jesus' use of the word "generation" really meant two groups: first, the generation that witnessed 1914; and second, those who were born before the last individuals in the first group died (basically, anybody born after about 2000 or so).[3] This is entirely exegetical and (given that JW believe in a literal Bible) hardly a straightforward reading of the Bible. But hey -- if your particular prediction of the end of the world doesn't work, why not just use another?


People's Pulpit Association[edit]



Someone who spends at least seventy hours a month preaching to non-members. It was previously ninety.


A publisher is a faithful JW who sells WBTS literature door-to-door. Publishers are expected to pay for these materials via """voluntary""" donations. A good publisher engages in field ministry and produces return calls and Good Will Persons.


Ransom Sacrifice[edit]

JWs reject the cross as a symbol, saying instead the atonement took place as a ransom sacrifice on a torture stake.

Return Calls[edit]

A JW evangelist will make return calls if a person shows even a little interest or requests more information on the first visit. The WBTS encourages persistent visitation. Successful return calls may turn somebody into a Good Will Person.

Charles Taze Russell[edit]


Joseph Franklin Rutherford[edit]

Joseph Franklin Rutherford became the second president of the PPP (later the WBTS) in 1917. He is ultimately responsible for the current organization of the WBTS.



See the main article on this topic: Salvation

JW believe Salvation is not obtained through acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior ("faith alone") but instead via dedication of one's life to Jehovah and living the lifestyle prescribed by the WBTS ("works alone").

Seven Times[edit]

See 1914.

Shepherding call[edit]

A visit by elders to local members. This is always done by a pair of them. This is usually routine, but is often to check up on them or chastize them.


Process whereby members disassociate themselves from apostates or the disfellowshipped and will not even talk to them. This includes troublesome family members. The opposite of this is bad association, see above.

The Society[edit]

See WBTS, also "the Organization".

Spiritually strong[edit]

Said of a member who is particularly devout or obedient. The opposite is "spiritually weak".

Students Association Kingdom Hall[edit]

A Students Association Kingdom Hall is usually relatively small and limited to a seating capacity of 200. Meetings are presided over by an overseer and his five assistants.

Symbolic Times[edit]

See 1914.

System of things[edit]

The ungodly satanically inspired system which runs the world.



JWs do not use the term "sermon", but prefer this instead.


Supposedly ruled by Jehovah. This is used in an approving sense by JWs.

Theocratic Ministry School[edit]

A mid-week meeting at the Kingdom Hall involving role playing and missionary practice.

Torture stake[edit]

JWs do not believe Jesus was executed on a cross, but a torture stake instead.


See the main article on this topic: Trinity

JW reject the Trinity. JW believe that Jehovah alone is God, that the Holy Spirit is just the 'force of God', and that Jesus was a being created by Jehovah.


Unbelieving mate[edit]

The non-member spouse of someone in the organization. Those married to them are said to be unevenly yoked.


Waiting on Jehovah[edit]

When someone does not have the answer to an issue, they will wait on/for Jehovah. Essentially a way to dodge an answer.


Watchtower is the official theological publication of the WBTS, first published in 1879 and now released semimonthly. Unsigned articles in Watchtower present WBTS positions on biblical doctrines.


Charles Taze Russell organized the People's Pulpit Association (PPA) in 1909, of which he was the first president. The PPA was renamed to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) in 1939. The WBTS is the main coordinating organization behind JW. The WBTS is rigidly controlled from the center (rather than democratically); JW believe that the WBTS is under the direct rule of Jehovah. The term "The Society" can be used to describe those WBTS leaders who are directly controlled by God.

Wife's head[edit]

See Headship.

When Someone You Love Dies[edit]

When Someone You Love Dies is a pamphlet used by JW evangelists to encourage Return Calls.

the World[edit]

A pejorative term for non-JW society. Someone who gets too interested in it is said to be worldly.


Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

The Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses is published each year and reports the worldwide statistics of JW and service of faithful members.

External links[edit]