her·​e·​tic | \ ˈher-ə-ˌtik How to pronounce heretic (audio) , ˈhe-rə-\

Definition of heretic

1 religion : a person who differs in opinion from established religious dogma (see dogma sense 2) especially : a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who refuses to acknowledge or accept a revealed truth The church regards them as heretics.
2 : one who differs in opinion from an accepted belief or doctrine : nonconformist

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Examples of heretic in a Sentence

The church regards them as heretics. Galileo was condemned as a heretic for supporting Copernicus's thesis that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa.

Recent Examples on the Web

For some, there is schadenfreude — the pure entertainment value in watching a onetime liberal hero, even a controversial one, be declared a heretic. Joe Coscarelli, New York Times, "In Kanye West, the Right Sees Truth-Telling and a Rare A-List Ally," 27 Apr. 2018 No one has so far claimed responsibility for the bombing but officials blame the Islamic State group, which considers Shiites to be heretics and frequently targets them, attacking their mosques, schools and cultural centers. Amir Shah, Fox News, "Gunmen besiege Kabul compound as Afghans mourn Shite dead," 16 Aug. 2018 The activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, says the militants consider the pro-democracy protesters heretics. Fox News, "The Latest: Company says systems will help protect Syria," 28 Sep. 2018 At the same time heretics—that is, Protestant reformers—continued to be burned, for Henry still regarded himself as a good Catholic, only no longer a Roman one. Allan Massie, WSJ, "‘Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life’ Review: The King’s Fixer," 2 Nov. 2018 Islamic hard-liners view them as heretics, and have successfully pressured past governments to pass draconian laws against the community. Fox News, "Pakistan's Ahmadis fearful as leaders bow to extremists," 28 Sep. 2018 He's lionized for advocating a heliocentric view of our solar system, spurning Church doctrine and becoming a heretic. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Newfound Galileo Letter Suggests He Lied to Dupe the Church and Avoid Persecution," 25 Sep. 2018 Thus the Puritans found themselves in parallel campaigns: a political struggle to dominate the heretics to the south and a decades-long war of cultural attrition against the Narragansetts. Roger Lowenstein, WSJ, "‘God, War, and Providence’ Review: When Conquest Was Puritanical," 13 June 2018 In 1521, Martin Luther was branded a heretic and had his writings banned because of his religious beliefs., "This day in history," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heretic.' 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 heretic

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for heretic

Middle English heretik, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French heretic, heretik, borrowed from Late Latin haereticus, hereticus, borrowed from Late Greek hairetikós, from hairetikós, adjective, "departing from dogma, heretical," going back to Greek, "able to choose, due to choice," from hairetós "that may be taken, eligible, chosen," verbal adjective of haireîn "to take, grasp, (middle voice) obtain, choose, prefer" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at heresy

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Last Updated

26 May 2019

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The first known use of heretic was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of heretic

: someone who believes or teaches something that goes against accepted or official beliefs


her·​e·​tic | \ ˈher-ə-ˌtik How to pronounce heretic (audio) \

Kids Definition of heretic

: a person who believes or teaches something opposed to accepted beliefs (as of a church)

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More from Merriam-Webster on heretic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heretic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for heretic

Spanish Central: Translation of heretic

Nglish: Translation of heretic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heretic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on heretic

What made you want to look up heretic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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