apos·​ta·​sy ə-ˈpä-stə-sē How to pronounce apostasy (audio)
plural apostasies
: an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
: abandonment of a previous loyalty : defection

Examples of apostasy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Medieval Islamic laws, such as capital punishment for apostasy, are used to give an appearance of authoritative piety in present times. Iqbal Akhtar, The Conversation, 25 July 2023 Built largely around vignettes, Bilal’s stories depict characters who serve as sensitive guides to matters of apostasy, racial prejudice, and gender roles. Condé Nast, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 This would not just legitimize but also give legal teeth to the suppression of religious dissent, and would remove the stigma from countries where blasphemy and apostasy is severely punished. Jacob McHangama, Time, 9 Aug. 2023 For somebody reared on 007, this was tantamount to apostasy. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 14 July 2023 While teasing out causation in presidential politics is tricky, Reagan’s apostasy wounded Ford. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 3 Apr. 2023 The two leaders remained amicable in the beginning, with Mr. Hamdok’s government overseeing a raft of reforms that succeeded in removing Sudan from the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, banned female genital cutting and scrapped apostasy laws. New York Times, 29 Oct. 2021 But the former congressman’s unorthodox plan has drawn the ire of several party stalwarts who think McAdams’ apostasy is worthy of punishment. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Apr. 2022 The reality is that most Egyptians have barbaric attitudes on a whole host of questions (e.g., ~80 percent of Egyptians favor the death penalty for apostasy from Islam). Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 29 Dec. 2011 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'apostasy.' 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 apostasie, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Late Latin apostasia, borrowed from Greek apostasía "defection, revolt, (Septuagint) rebellion against God" (Late Greek, "defection, apostasy"), variant (with -ia -ia entry 1) of apóstasis, from aposta-, variant stem of aphístamai, aphístasthai "to stand away from, keep aloof from, revolt," middle voice of aphístēmi, aphistánai "to put away, remove, cause to revolt" (from aph-, assimilated variant of apo- apo- + histánai "to cause to stand, place") + -sis -sis — more at assist entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near apostasy

Cite this Entry

“Apostasy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apostasy. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


apos·​ta·​sy ə-ˈpäs-tə-sē How to pronounce apostasy (audio)
plural apostasies
: a giving up of a religious faith or a previous loyalty
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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