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[sak-ruh-lij] /ˈsæk rə lɪdʒ/
the violation or profanation of anything sacred or held sacred.
an instance of this.
the stealing of anything consecrated to the service of God.
1275-1325; Middle English < Old French < Latin sacrilegium, equivalent to sacri- (combining form of sacrum holy place) + leg(ere) to steal, literally, gather + -ium -ium Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sacrilege
  • Some were rumored to have hired a taxi for the climb, sacrilege for a true pilgrim.
  • The historian's first duties are sacrilege and the mocking of false gods.
  • He predicted over a hundred years ago the sacrilege of burning irreplaceable petroleum oil when energy is all around us.
  • Demanding evidence of their existence is a sacrilege.
  • It is a sacrilege to walk four steps from the headstone to the foot and four steps from the foot to the headstone.
  • Its object was the punishment of acts of sacrilege, and not the conquest of unbelievers.
  • Whether he be actor or specter, to touch him would be sacrilege.
  • To them, my tongue-and-cheek opinions scream sacrilege and idiocy.
  • Where nature is sacred, the violation and exploitation of nature are sacrilege.
  • Caught in the act, he was embalmed alive and his tongue was cut out for his act of sacrilege.
British Dictionary definitions for sacrilege


the misuse or desecration of anything regarded as sacred or as worthy of extreme respect: to play Mozart's music on a kazoo is sacrilege
the act or an instance of taking anything sacred for secular use
Derived Forms
sacrilegist (ˌsækrɪˈliːdʒɪst) noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French sacrilège, from Latin sacrilegium, from sacrilegus temple-robber, from sacra sacred things + legere to take
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for sacrilege

c.1300, "crime of stealing what is consecrated to God," from Old French sacrilege (12c.), from Latin sacrilegium "temple robbery, a stealing of sacred things," from sacrilegus "stealer of sacred things," noun use of adjective, from phrase sacrum legere "to steal sacred things," from sacrum "sacred object" (from neuter singular of sacer "sacred;" see sacred) + legere "take, pick up" (see lecture (n.)). Second element is not from religion. Transferred sense of "profanation of anything held sacred" is attested from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for sacrilege


originally, the theft of something sacred; as early as the 1st century BC, however, the Latin term for sacrilege came to mean any injury, violation, or profanation of sacred things. Legal punishment for such acts was already sanctioned, in the Levitical code of ancient Israel. The Israelites had extensive rules to safeguard what was holy or consecrated, violation of which (especially of temple laws) often led to mob violence.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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