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noun anath·e·ma \ə-ˈna-thə-mə\

Simple Definition of anathema

  • : someone or something that is very strongly disliked

Full Definition of anathema

  1. 1 a :  one that is cursed by ecclesiastical authority b :  someone or something intensely disliked or loathed —usually used as a predicate nominative <this notion was anathema to most of his countrymen — S. J. Gould>

  2. 2 a :  a ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication b :  the denunciation of something as accursed c :  a vigorous denunciation :  curse

Examples of anathema

  1. Maugham was not only prolific but also a best-seller, though snobs dismissed his work as middlebrow (a category that few people worry about in our day but that once was anathema). —Edmund White, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009

  2. While everything pointed to an immense flood, Bretz knew such a notion would be anathema to his fellow geologists. In part that was because the quantity of water needed for such a flood would exceed the flow of all the world's modern rivers combined. —Richard Lovett, New Scientist, 21-27 Apr. 2007

  3. Big Jeff was devoted to Purcell. He haunted his room and patiently endured his abuse just to sit in the corner and watch him shave or do push-ups or dress for dinner, and listen to him pronounce his opinions and anathemas. —Tobias Wolff, Old School, 2003

  4. For all the artistic wonders it has preserved, the Holy Mountain is not a museum, and the idea of playing host to sightseers is anathema to the monks. Male visitors of all faiths are welcome, but they come as pilgrims, not tourists, and only 110 “residence permits” are issued each day by patristic officials in Ouranoupolis. —Nicholas Basbanes, Smithsonian, August 1999

  5. a politician who is anathema to conservatives

  6. ideas that are an anathema to me

Origin of anathema

Late Latin anathemat-, anathema, from Greek, thing devoted to evil, curse, from anatithenai to set up, dedicate, from ana- + tithenai to place, set — more at do

First Known Use: 1526

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

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February 5, 2016

bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat

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