her·​e·​tic ˈher-ə-ˌtik How to pronounce heretic (audio)
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.
: one who differs in opinion from an accepted belief or doctrine : nonconformist

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 To dissent was to be branded a big-government heretic who would imperil the money machine of capitalism. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Sep. 2023 Francis has already been facing a revolt on the right, with his most bitter conservative critics decrying him as a heretic. Kate Brady, Washington Post, 2 Oct. 2023 Its religious trappings are plain enough: the attribution of natural catastrophes to human wickedness, revelations of the apocalypse, persecution of heretics. Christian Schneider, National Review, 28 Sep. 2023 While such protests would likely receive support as well as backlash now, in the early ’90s O’Connor ended up getting it from both sides, targeted by the right as a heretic and agitator and mocked by the left as a kook. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, 27 July 2023 Cronin, a sort of heretic within this heretic group, has his own idea for differentiating between living and not. Sarah Scoles, Scientific American, 13 Jan. 2023 In 1935, Pope Pius XI openly supported the invasion of Ethiopia as a crusade against a country of heretics, schismatics, pagans, and infidels. Ian Campbell, Foreign Affairs, 22 Feb. 2022 To have reservations about something that is treated as sacrosanct is to be an unbeliever, or worse, a heretic, and thus someone to be cast out. Ian Buruma, Harper's Magazine, 2 June 2023 For his advocacy of this theory, which went against Catholic church teachings that Earth was the center of the universe, he was accused of being a heretic, among the most serious of crimes. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 19 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'heretic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near heretic

Cite this Entry

“Heretic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


her·​e·​tic ˈher-ə-ˌtik How to pronounce heretic (audio)
: a person who believes or teaches something opposed to accepted beliefs

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