mid-14c., in religious use, "a building up of the soul," from Old French edificacion "a building, construction; edification, good example," and directly from Latin aedificationem (nominative aedificatio) "construction, the process of building; a building, an edifice," in Late Latin "spiritual improvement," from past participle stem of aedificare "to build" (see edifice). Religious use is as translation of Greek oikodome in I Corinthians xiv. Meaning "mental improvement" is 1650s. Literal sense of "building" is rare in English, but Middle English bilding sometimes was used in religious writing to translate Latin aedificatio.
updated on October 13, 2021