JOY Blog

The True Meanings of Praise and Worship
November 18, 2015By Cari Bousfield

We often hear the words "praise" and "worship" used as if they are synonymous. But do these words really mean the same thing?

According to, praise is “the act of expressing approval or admiration” while worship is “reverent honor and homage paid to God or any object regarded as sacred.”

Although these common definitions are likely the ones most familiar to us, there are some original words for praise and worship in Hebrew and Greek (the languages of the Old and New Testaments) which more accurately demonstrate what these words mean.  

Words for praise in Hebrew and Greek   

Here are seven Hebrew words for praise and their translations:  

  • Yadah - Hands to God 

  • Towdah - Extend the hands while speaking the same thing 

  • Shabach - Loud adoration; testimony to what God has done 

  • Barauch - Expressing an attitude of love and trust by kneeling or bowing 

  • Zamar - Singing while using instruments  

  • Halah - Rave upon the Lord and act foolishly (and where the word hallelujah comes from)

  • Tehillah - Speaking and singing praises to the Father 

Here are some Greek words for praise and their translations:  

  • Epainos - Laudation and commendation  

  • Doxa - To recognize and honor, glorify 

  • Eulogeo - To speak well of 

Words for worship in Hebrew and Greek   

The most common Hebrew word for worship is:  

  • Hishtachavah - Bow down, kneel, give honor; an outward physical stance usually done during times of giving an offering or making a sacrifice

The most common Greek word associated with worship is:  

  • Proskuneo - To do reverence to (and where we get the English word prostrate) 

The Greek phrase logikan latreian is also used in the book of Romans by the Apostle Paul when he describes the true meaning of worship. The phrase is translated as “reasonable service.”  

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2) 

Worship first, then praise

In looking at Psalm 100, we can see a few more clarifying differences between praise and worship. The very beginning of this Psalm says, "Worship the Lord with gladness and come before Him with joyful songs.” Verse three says, "Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His.”  

It's interesting in this Psalm that worship comes first. I believe that the first part of worship includes getting to know God. Once we have come into a relationship with Him, then we can begin to give Him praise.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." (Psalm 100:4)

If we praise Him without recognizing who He is, or without really knowing Him, we are most likely just putting on a show.

Praise and worship doesn’t just happen at church

I believe the Lord wants us to adopt a lifestyle of praise and worship, and not just do it once a week on Sunday. Praise and worship can take place outside of the four walls of the church we attend. We can sing praises to Him wherever we are, whether that’s at home or driving in the car. We can also silently thank Him while strolling through the aisles at the grocery store.

Acts of worship can include giving to someone in need or visiting someone at the hospital. In fact, any time you act as a servant and put God first, that is worship.  

While there are both similarities and differences between the words praise and worship, one thing is certain: God desires both from us. The more we live a life of praise and worship, the stronger and more intimate our relationship with Him.

How would you define the words praise and worship? Would you say you live a lifestyle of worshiping God? What could you do differently from what you normally do to praise God and worship Him?  

Cari Bousfield is a freelance writer and blogger. Besides blogging for JOY, Cari blogs at Faith's Mom's Blog and writes on a variety of articles at HubPages. She is also the author of Having Faith. Cari has a strong desire to help people connect with one another and to God. She prays that through her writing, she can reach the hearts of others and help to bring hope, inspiration and courage to "walk by faith not by sight". See all JOY Blog posts by Cari.


Visitor Comments (1)
Praise and Worship
Posted By GIFT on June 17, 2017
Am really greatful for the explaination.More grace unto you.I would like to ask for some mentalship.
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