anath·​e·​ma·​tize ə-ˈna-thə-mə-ˌtīz How to pronounce anathematize (audio)
anathematized; anathematizing

transitive verb

: to pronounce an anathema upon

Did you know?

When 16th-century English speakers needed a verb meaning "to condemn by anathema" (that is, by an official curse from church authority), anathematize proved to be just the right word. But anathematize didn't originate in English as a combination of the noun anathema and the suffix -ize. Rather, our verb is based on forebears in Late Latin (anathematizare) and Greek (anathematizein). Anathematize can still indicate solemn, formal condemnation, but today it can also have milder applications. The same is true of anathema, which now often means simply "a vigorous denunciation," or more frequently, "something or someone intensely disliked or loathed."

Examples of anathematize in a Sentence

heretics anathematized by the church leaders fundamentalist preachers who anathematize any departure from a literal interpretation of the Bible
Recent Examples on the Web In a democracy, the question of what to do about climate change and for that matter the decision to anathematize entire sectors of the economy ought to be matters for voters not moneymen. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 9 Dec. 2020 Still, some people now reflexively anathematize this brilliant novel because its self-justifying, unreliable narrator is a pedophile. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 1 Jan. 2020 The most serious native challenge to liberalism, made by the slaveholding oligarchy of the Old South, was crushed on the battlefield, and, despite the efforts of an ever-dwindling number of apologists, morally anathematized. Park MacDougald, Daily Intelligencer, 27 Feb. 2018 In some ways, the grotesqueries of his persona, rather than anathematizing him to voters, only enhanced his appeal among those wishing for something different. Jamelle Bouie, Slate Magazine, 24 Jan. 2017 BuzzFeed was so anathematized that by presser’s end, fellow journalists were picking up their lunch trays and moving to the other side of the cafeteria. Will Oremus, Slate Magazine, 12 Jan. 2017 But 33 members of the law faculty published a letter anathematizing her. Mona Charen, National Review, 8 Sep. 2017 And if anyone shall be led by his cupidity or arrogance to break this truce, by the authority of God and with the sanction of this Council he shall be anathematized. James Carroll, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anathematize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anathematize was in 1566


Dictionary Entries Near anathematize

Cite this Entry

“Anathematize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!