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

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 In office, my father had sought clemency for a poor Christian woman accused of blasphemy. New York Times, 12 May 2022 The prosecutor in this case claims to support religious freedom, but her attempt to wield Finnish statute as a secular blasphemy law says otherwise. Kelsey Koberg, Fox News, 18 Feb. 2022 The only other artist to get the crowd on their feet that day was fellow Texan George Strait, for whom the lack of due respect would be akin to blasphemy. Rolling Stone, 25 Apr. 2022 International and national rights groups say blasphemy accusations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. NBC News, 14 Feb. 2022 Farther east, in more extreme circumstances, countries regularly cite blasphemy and religious-offense laws to shut down people who merely wish to live and speak in accordance with their faith. Sean Nelson, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 But to frame them as a purely religious problem ignores the socioeconomic and political origins of Islamic blasphemy laws, and the anti-democratic cultural consequences of authoritarianism in many Muslim countries. Ahmet T. Kuru, The Conversation, 20 Oct. 2020 Mob killings over accusations of blasphemy -- a crime that can carry the death sentence -- are fairly frequent in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Reuters, CNN, 13 Feb. 2022 Is this not blasphemy, from a professional food person, no less? Jenny Singer, Glamour, 19 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Blasphemy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for blasphemy


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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