het·​ero·​dox ˈhe-tə-rə-ˌdäks How to pronounce heterodox (audio)
: contrary to or different from an acknowledged standard, a traditional form, or an established religion : unorthodox, unconventional
heterodox ideas
: holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines
a heterodox religious sect

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Hot take: individuals often see other people’s ideas as unconventional while regarding their own as common sense. On second thought, this take may be more on the mild side—in other words, closer to orthodox (“conventional”) insight about human nature than to heterodox (“unconventional” or “contrary”) opinion. Both orthodox and heterodox developed from the same root, the Greek doxa, meaning “opinion.” Heterodox combines doxa with heter-, a combining form meaning “other” or “different”; orthodox pairs doxa with orth-, meaning “correct” or “straight.”

Examples of heterodox in a Sentence

a Christian clergyman with a very heterodox opinion on the divinity of Jesus her heterodox approach to teaching science initially met with some resistance from her peers
Recent Examples on the Web In Saito’s heterodox reading, there are two Marxes, only one of whom is correct. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2024 The company recruited some big name writers from other media outlets such as Glenn Greenwald, Matthew Yglesias, Andrew Sullivan, Bari Weiss and Heather Cox Richardson, many of whom champion free speech, heterodox thinking and broad discourse. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 9 Jan. 2024 But Thiel is a good fit with the more heterodox elements of the New Right. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 Latinos are more complicated and more heterodox than people give them credit for. Jp Brammer, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2023 Trump has been a disrupter, and his policies, informed by his heterodox perspective, have set in motion a series of long-overdue corrections. Nadia Schadlow, Foreign Affairs, 11 Aug. 2020 Justice and The Donald do have plenty of similarities: the wealth, the businesses, the heterodox populist rhetoric driving their electoral successes. Andrew Donaldson, Washington Examiner, 5 May 2023 In 2008, however, McCain emerged after grueling struggles as the presidential nominee of a Republican Party whose base had grown increasingly resistant to his bipartisanship, his internationalism, and his boldly heterodox policy initiatives on climate change and immigration reform. Geoffrey Kabaservice, Washington Post, 16 Oct. 2020 Debates about stimulus and spending are only the beginning of his thought, which ranged over ethics and politics as well as economics, and which was far more heterodox than the interpretations of his work that have come down to us today would suggest. Kim Phillips-Fein, The New Republic, 9 June 2020 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin heterodoxus, from Greek heterodoxos, from heter- + doxa opinion — more at doxology

First Known Use

circa 1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of heterodox was circa 1650


Dictionary Entries Near heterodox

Cite this Entry

“Heterodox.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heterodox. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


het·​ero·​dox ˈhet-ə-rə-ˌdäks How to pronounce heterodox (audio)
: opposed to established opinions, beliefs, or standards : unorthodox
: holding or expressing unaccepted beliefs or opinions
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