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