apos·​tate ə-ˈpä-ˌstāt How to pronounce apostate (audio)
: one who commits apostasy
apostate adjective

Examples of apostate in a Sentence

an apostate from communism, he later became one of its harshest critics became an apostate to liberalism after he had gotten wealthy
Recent Examples on the Web All the while, Islamist leaders throughout the Muslim world have vilified Riyadh as a U.S. lackey and an apostate regime. Bernard Haykel, Foreign Affairs, 12 Feb. 2024 If the conflict in Syria is a religious war against apostates rather than a geopolitical scuffle, more militants will be drawn toward the conflict and away from the crown. Andrew L. Peek, Foreign Affairs, 7 Mar. 2016 Liz Cheney, the former Republican congresswoman from Wyoming and an ardent conservative, is an apostate for modern times. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 10 Dec. 2023 The latter — driven by an apocalyptic, millenarian creed — had embarked on a frenzy of killing, torture, grisly execution and abductions of civilians from communities of supposed apostates and enemies. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2023 Moribund groups have sputtered to life, former brothers-in-arms have declared one another apostates, and erstwhile hunters of jihadists have joined their ranks. Foreign Affairs, 15 Aug. 2017 Given an ill wind, crowds can quickly become mobs, and mobs have a nasty habit of separating apostates’ heads from their bodies. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 27 June 2023 But when someone leaves, the community labels them an 'apostate' – the scarlet letter of the FLDS. Lauren Lantry, ABC News, 22 June 2023 These people call Catholics like me apostates for opposing the church’s doubling down on culture war issues at the expense of social justice. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2023

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

Word History


Middle English apostata, apostate, in part continuing Old English apostata (weak noun), in part borrowed from Anglo-French apostate, apostata, both borrowed from Late Latin apostata "rebel against God, fallen Christian, heretic," borrowed from Late Greek apostátēs "rebel against God, apostate," going back to Greek, "defector, rebel," from aposta-, variant stem of aphístamai, aphístasthai "to stand away from, keep aloof from, revolt" + -tēs, agent suffix — more at apostasy

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apostate was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near apostate

Cite this Entry

“Apostate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apostate. Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


apos·​tate ə-ˈpäs-ˌtāt How to pronounce apostate (audio)
: one who commits apostasy
apostate adjective

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