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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for heresy


dissent, dissidence, heterodoxy, nonconformity


conformity, orthodoxy

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Examples of heresy in a Sentence

They were accused of heresy. He was preaching dangerous heresies.

Recent Examples on the Web

The blossoming of digital fatwas is also an indication of the splintering of orthodoxies and the emergence of heresies. Shoaib Daniyal, Quartz India, "Haleem or Daleem? WhatsApp university fuels debate over Ramzan delicacy," 4 June 2019 Her male attire was contentious and factored in her conviction for heresy and execution in 1431. Dina Litovsky, National Geographic, "Gender-bending fashion rewrites the rules of who wears what," 20 Mar. 2019 Professor Fiss faults me for committing the individualist heresy of focusing on individual rather than collective effects of affirmative action. Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "Arguing Affirmative Action," 7 Feb. 2019 Here’s a heresy: This doesn’t matter nearly as much as people think. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "Don’t Obsess Over the Earnings Season," 5 Feb. 2019 For some traditionalists, this could be considered heresy. Jonathan Jones,, "Cam, AB and Opponents Who Team Up for Summer Workouts," 13 July 2018 In recent years, the debate has been especially heated, with Christians disagreeing strongly on whether conflating God and country is a right or a heresy. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, "The “Star-Spangled Banner” in church? Some Christians are questioning the mix of patriotism and God," 1 July 2018 The cat’s reputation worsened during the medieval era, as the Catholic Church battled against heresies and dissent. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "The Dark Lore of Black Cats," 18 Oct. 2018 The Roman Inquisition began in 1542 as part of the Catholic Church's counter-reformation against Protestantism, and prosecuted people for heresy and other doctrinal crimes. Fox News, "Vatican's Inquisition, Index of Banned Books open for study," 14 May 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for heresy

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for heresy

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on heresy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heresy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for heresy

Spanish Central: Translation of heresy

Nglish: Translation of heresy for Spanish Speakers

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

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