Difference Between Nun and Sister

Nun vs Sister

Nun and sister are commonly used terms to refer to ladies wearing veils and living in convents. Both nuns and sisters are seen working in religious orders and serving humanity. Many people use these terms interchangeably as if there is no difference between nuns and sisters. However, despite similarities, there are differences between nuns and sisters that will be highlighted in this article.


Nun is a religious woman who has chosen to live a cloistered life full of prayer and contemplation. She is part of a religious order and lives a simple life in a convent or a monastery. A nun has to leave mainstream society as she chooses a life devoted to prayer and meditation. The community of nuns is a religious order and you are not wrong if you inadvertently refer to a nun as a sister as they are in fact all sisters.


A sister in Christian Catholicism is a female who chooses to live a life of prayer and service to humanity and god though she continues to live in the mainstream of the society. Sister is characterized by selfless service to the sick, the needy, and the poor. Sisters try to spread the gospel to those who are unaware, like ones who are uneducated. The workplace of a sister is within the mainstream of the society as they are seen working and providing service in churches, hospitals, schools, orphanages, old age homes, and so on.

What is the difference between Nun and Sister?

• Both nuns and sisters are religious females that choose to live a life of prayer and service, but whereas nuns live a more cloistered life inside a convent, sisters are seen serving people in the mainstream society.

• All nuns are sisters, but not all sisters are nuns.

• Nuns’ community is called a religious order whereas the community of sisters is called a congregation.

• Sisters are seen providing service in schools, hospitals, orphanages etc. while nuns are confined to churches and convents.

• The vows taken by nuns are different from the vows taken by sisters.

• A nun can be addressed as a sister.

• Nuns live a more contemplative life full of prayers and meditation in a convent or a monastery.