1 : committing or characterized by a technical and not necessarily intrinsically outrageous violation (such as improper reception of a sacrament) of what is sacred because consecrated to God
2 : grossly irreverent toward a hallowed person, place, or thing
Did You Know?
It may seem that sacrilegious should be spelled as sacreligious, since the word sometimes describes an irreverent treatment of religious objects or places. However, sacrilegious comes to us from sacrilege, which is ultimately derived from a combination of the Latin words sacer ("sacred") and legere ("to gather" or "to steal"). Its antecedent in Latin, sacrilegus, meant "one who steals sacred things." There is no direct relation to religious (which is derived from the Latin word religiosus, itself from religio, meaning "supernatural constraint or religious practice"). The apparent resemblance between sacrilegious and religious is just a coincidence.
My great-grandfather was a die-hard New Dealer who considered any criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt to be sacrilegious.
"It had drawn conservative and religious protests over taxpayer financing of art that the work's opponents considered sacrilegious." - Victoria Burnett, New York Times, February 25, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to create a word that is derived from Latin legere ("to gather") and refers to a volume of writings: _ lo _ il _ g _ u _. The answer is …
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