her·​e·​sy | \ ˈher-ə-sē How to pronounce heresy (audio) , ˈhe-rə- \
plural heresies

Definition of heresy

1a : adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma (see dogma sense 2) They were accused of heresy.
b : denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church
c : an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma
2a : dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice To disagree with the party leadership was heresy.
b : an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards our democratic heresy which holds that … truth is to be found by majority vote— M. W. Straight

Synonyms & Antonyms for heresy



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of heresy in a Sentence

They were accused of heresy. He was preaching dangerous heresies.
Recent Examples on the Web This would have been heresy saying this two year ago. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 Some may scream heresy, but why should a whole turkey command the oven for hours when everyone knows it’s all about the sides at Thanksgiving? Christian Reynoso, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Nov. 2021 My stance has long been a lonely one, as evidenced by the company’s continued expansion across the West and legions of devoted fans who hound me for my heresy. Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2021 Trump really did make four years seem like a millennium, which is probably how Ruffin managed to pack what felt like 1,000 years of heresy into one song. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 15 Oct. 2021 Some were treated like bourbon, aged in American oak rather than French—a heresy in this tradition-minded place. Jason Wilson, Travel + Leisure, 15 Oct. 2021 One imagines that Frank would see much of what passes for conservativism today as more heresy than principle. Neal B. Freeman, National Review, 28 Aug. 2021 But Lewellen’s views about the state leaders’ embrace of popery and heresy played a central part in it. Brendan Mcconville, Time, 28 Sep. 2021 Among them was another of Italy’s greatest poets, Guido Cavalcanti, although Dante wouldn’t spare his father from damnation for heresy. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of heresy

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

History and Etymology for heresy

Middle English heresie, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed (with assimilation to the suffix -ie -y entry 2) from Late Latin haeresis, heresis "school (of philosophy or theology), sect, belief contrary to church dogma," borrowed from Greek haíresis "act of taking, choice, course of action or thought, system of principles, sect, faction," from haireîn "to take, grasp, (middle voice) obtain, choose, prefer" (of obscure origin) + -sis -sis

Learn More About heresy

Time Traveler for heresy

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for heresy

Last Updated

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heresy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for heresy



English Language Learners Definition of heresy

: a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief or opinion of a particular religion


her·​e·​sy | \ ˈher-ə-sē How to pronounce heresy (audio) \
plural heresies

Kids Definition of heresy

1 : the holding of religious beliefs opposed to church doctrine : such a belief
2 : belief or opinion opposed to a generally accepted view It's heresy in my family to not love baseball.

More from Merriam-Webster on heresy

Nglish: Translation of heresy for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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