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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.
Origin of heresy
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 heresy
  • They are all guilty of heresy.
  • They should be pillorying and decrying this article as heresy.
  • Such ideas have been heresy in the halls of Congress until recently.
  • He was convicted of plain old-fashioned doctrinal heresy, of which he was plainly guilty.
  • That might seem like heresy, but maybe it is just thinking outside the box.
  • Dolly, offended by his heresy but intrigued by his candor, asks to see his work.
  • Laws of heresy killed people for contradicting the church and its texts.
  • This is standard practice in the humanities, but a heresy in science.
  • Thankfully, there was someone brave enough to risk charges of heresy to suggest that the world was not flat.
  • The former president commits no heresy in this regard.
British Dictionary definitions for heresy


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 heresy

"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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heresy 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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heresy 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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