he·​ret·​i·​cal hə-ˈre-ti-kəl How to pronounce heretical (audio)
variants or less commonly heretic
ˈher-ə-ˌtik How to pronounce heretical (audio)
: of or relating to adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma : characterized by heresy
heretical writings
: of, relating to, or characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards : unorthodox
It would be heretical to suggest changing company policy.
heretically adverb

Examples of heretical in a Sentence

the belief that women should be allowed to have careers outside the home was once considered heretical
Recent Examples on the Web Controversial blogger, bracing commentator and heretical leftist Fredrik DeBoer is fond of scouring both the internet and the annals of personal experience for similarly dubious delicacies. Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 Catholic controversy and confrontation Galileo was ordered to appear before the Holy Office to face charges related to his advocating for the Copernican theory and his belief in the Earth's movement around the sun, a stance the Catholic Church deemed heretical. Maeghan Dolph, Fox News, 3 Mar. 2024 What Osiander and others found heretical was the very notion of a heliocentric universe. Rob Reid, Ars Technica, 9 Mar. 2023 If the music were more somber, people would realize the images are disturbing and the song heretical. . . . Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2024 Yet the Manifesto’s heretical idea is precisely what characterizes the management of knowledge work in the world’s most valuable and fastest growing firms and many other fast-growing firms. Steve Denning, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 The village was in the crosshairs of the Inquisition, seeking to crush a Gnostic splinter group known as the Cathars, whose beliefs were branded heretical by the Vatican. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2023 As a young man, he had been expelled from the city’s Jewish community for his heretical views on God and the Bible. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 Eager to ditch the heretical Treaty of Moscow, his negotiators produced New START — the lineal descendant of two earlier SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) and three START agreements — which entered into force in February 2011 for ten years, extendable once for five more. John R. Bolton, National Review, 25 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'heretical.' 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 heretikel, borrowed from Medieval Latin haereticālis, from Late Latin haereticus heretic + Latin -ālis -al entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of heretical was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near heretical

Cite this Entry

“Heretical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


he·​ret·​i·​cal hə-ˈret-i-kəl How to pronounce heretical (audio)
: of, relating to, or characterized by heresy : unorthodox
heretically adverb

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