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[her-uh-see] /ˈhɛr ə si/
noun, plural heresies.
opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.
the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine.
Roman Catholic Church. the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church.
any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.
1175-1225; Middle English heresie < Old French eresie < Latin haeresis school of thought, sect < Greek haíresis, literally, act of choosing, derivative of haireîn to choose
Related forms
superheresy, noun, plural superheresies.
4. dissent, iconoclasm, dissension. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for heresies
  • Other points in the story of ancient heresies seemed to him to look the same way.
  • At first he dissembled his heresies, but by degrees his extravagant doctrines came to light.
  • He vigorously opposed the rising heresies of that age.
  • The heresies, which at that time disturbed the church, also exercised the zeal of our holy pastor.
  • He opposed the fashionable vices and growing heresies of those times with equal vigour and success.
  • Nature, which incites his heresies inspires his true vocation.
  • But when you look into his work, it's shot through with all kinds of fascinating heresies.
  • The dinosaur heresies: new theories unlocking the mystery of the dinosaurs and their extinction.
  • There are other heresies among the mathematicians, if they can be so proclaimed.
  • heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
British Dictionary definitions for heresies


noun (pl) -sies
  1. an opinion or doctrine contrary to the orthodox tenets of a religious body or church
  2. the act of maintaining such an opinion or doctrine
any opinion or belief that is or is thought to be contrary to official or established theory
belief in or adherence to unorthodox opinion
Word Origin
C13: from Old French eresie, from Late Latin haeresis, from Latin: sect, from Greek hairesis a choosing, from hairein to choose
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for heresies



"an opinion of private men different from that of the catholick and orthodox church" [Johnson], c.1200, from Old French heresie (12c.), from Latin hæresis, "school of thought, philosophical sect," used by Christian writers for "unorthodox sect or doctrine," from Greek hairesis "a taking or choosing, a choice," from haireisthai "take, seize," middle voice of hairein "to choose," of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE *ser- "to seize" (cf. Hittite šaru "booty," Welsh herw "booty").

The Greek word was used in the New Testament in reference to the Sadducees, Pharisees, and even the Christians, as sects of Judaism, but in English bibles it usually is translated sect. Meaning "religious belief opposed to the orthodox doctrines of the Church" evolved in Late Latin. Transferred (non-religious) use from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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heresies in Culture

heresy definition

A belief or teaching considered unacceptable by a religious group. (See heretic.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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heresies in the Bible

from a Greek word signifying (1) a choice, (2) the opinion chosen, and (3) the sect holding the opinion. In the Acts of the Apostles (5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5) it denotes a sect, without reference to its character. Elsewhere, however, in the New Testament it has a different meaning attached to it. Paul ranks "heresies" with crimes and seditions (Gal. 5:20). This word also denotes divisions or schisms in the church (1 Cor. 11:19). In Titus 3:10 a "heretical person" is one who follows his own self-willed "questions," and who is to be avoided. Heresies thus came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2 Pet. 2:1).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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