blas·​phe·​my | \ ˈblas-fə-mē How to pronounce blasphemy (audio) \
plural blasphemies

Definition of blasphemy

1a : the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God accused of blasphemy
b : the act of claiming the attributes of a deity for a mere man to suggest that he was … divine could only be viewed … as blasphemy— John Bright †1889
2 : irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable

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Frequently Asked Questions About blasphemy

What is the difference between blasphemy and heresy?

Blasphemy, in a religious sense, refers to great disrespect shown to God or to something holy, or to something said or done that shows this kind of disrespect; heresy refers a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief or opinion of a particular religion. Both words are also sometimes used in general, not necessarily religious, contexts.

What is the verb form of blasphemy?

The verb form of blasphemy is blaspheme, as in "those who blaspheme God." It comes to English from the Late Latin word blasphemare.

Does blasphemy have to be spoken?

Although in certain senses of the word it may be more common to use blasphemy in reference to speech, it may also be applied to writing. The word has broadened in meaning beyond "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God"; it is now also used with the meaning "irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable."

Examples of blasphemy in a Sentence

She was condemned by the church for uttering blasphemies. in the 17th century the Quakers were persecuted for beliefs and practices that older churches regarded as blasphemies
Recent Examples on the Web That is pure blasphemy to the waterfowler who expects to have some action right at or a bit before sunrise. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Sep. 2021 Indeed, Scotland, one of the four nations within the United Kingdom, formally repealed its archaic blasphemy law earlier this year. Lois Mclatchie, National Review, 27 June 2021 Recent blasphemy sentences include a senior Shi’a cleric who advocates greater separation of religion and the state. Dr. Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes, 5 July 2021 Nearly three dozen offenses are punishable today by death in Pakistan, including blasphemy and adultery, and other courts rely heavily on eyewitness testimony and confessions that the groups say are often obtained through coercion or torture. Washington Post, 24 June 2021 And indeed, the current use of blasphemy laws shows that religious minorities are often targeted, including Bahá’ís, Sunnis, Sufis, and Christians. Dr. Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes, 5 July 2021 Pakistan's blasphemy laws have long been criticized by global rights groups. Reuters, CNN, 4 June 2021 Naseem had been lured to Pakistan from Illinois by people who wanted to entrap him using Pakistan's blasphemy laws, according to the State Department. Fox News, 31 July 2020 In Victorian Britain, plebeian atheists were prosecuted for blasphemy. Jonathan Rose, WSJ, 7 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'blasphemy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of blasphemy

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for blasphemy

see blaspheme

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The first known use of blasphemy was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Blasphemy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for blasphemy



English Language Learners Definition of blasphemy

: great disrespect shown to God or to something holy
: something said or done that is disrespectful to God or to something holy


blas·​phe·​my | \ ˈblas-fə-mē How to pronounce blasphemy (audio) \
plural blasphemies

Legal Definition of blasphemy

: the crime of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God or a religion and its doctrines and writings and especially God as perceived by Christianity and Christian doctrines and writings

Note: In many states, blasphemy statutes have been repealed as contrary to the First Amendment.

More from Merriam-Webster on blasphemy

Nglish: Translation of blasphemy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of blasphemy for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about blasphemy


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