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 Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a movement that sees itself as protecting Islam against blasphemy, thrashed uniformed members of Pakistani forces and took dozens hostage for hours. New York Times, "Biden’s Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for Pakistan. But at What Cost?," 15 Apr. 2021 These two outliers are a reminder that the harsh use of blasphemy laws is not confined to the Islamic world. The Economist, "Daily chart Blasphemy laws are still common around the world," 14 Dec. 2020 In 1695, the Scottish parliament ratified a preexisting statute making blasphemy a capital offense. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Robert Burns’s Antidote for Our Self-Righteous Times," 25 Jan. 2021 At the time, the church had said suggestions that any disease can be spread through the practice of communion were blasphemy. Star Tribune, "Virus deaths of senior Serb religious leaders triggers alarm," 23 Nov. 2020 Americans never leave well enough alone, adding caramel to my beautiful apple at the State Fair, an original sin, and chocolate to hummus at the supermarket, a gastronomical blasphemy. Ahmed Tharwat, Star Tribune, "Happy Meal memories: An immigrant's tale," 24 Dec. 2020 But to actually witness the blasphemy of Alabama playing Notre Dame in a fraudulent Rose Bowl setting Friday afternoon was pure torture. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Hoping for fans in the stands and other L.A. sports wishes for 2021," 3 Jan. 2021 The quintessential scene pits Levee’s streetwise blasphemy against the religious Cutler (Colman Domingo). Armond White, National Review, "The Fiasco of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom," 1 Jan. 2021 Some Christians have faced accusations of blasphemy against Islam, a capital crime, and been lynched or jailed for life. Washington Post, "In Pakistan, fear of virus forces Christians to curtail Christmas celebrations," 24 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for blasphemy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for blasphemy

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Blasphemy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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.

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