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[sak-ruh-lij-uh s, -lee-juh s] /ˌsæk rəˈlɪdʒ əs, -ˈli dʒəs/
pertaining to or involving sacrilege:
sacrilegious practices.
guilty of sacrilege:
a sacrilegious person.
Origin of sacrilegious
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English sacrilegiose; see sacrilege, -ous
Related forms
sacrilegiously, adverb
sacrilegiousness, noun
nonsacrilegious, adjective
nonsacrilegiously, adverb
nonsacrilegiousness, noun
pseudosacrilegious, adjective
pseudosacrilegiously, adverb
unsacrilegious, adjective
unsacrilegiously, adverb
unsacrilegiousness, noun
Can be confused
irreligious, sacrilegious, unreligious.
religious, sacrilegious, sacrosanct.
Pronunciation note
The almost universal pronunciation of sacrilegious as
[sak-ruh-lij-uh s] /ˌsæk rəˈlɪdʒ əs/ (Show IPA)
is the result of folk etymology—modifying the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word so that it conforms to a more familiar one—in this case religious. Etymologically, sacrilegious has no direct relationship to religious. The historical pronunciation
[sak-ruh-lee-juh s] /ˌsæk rəˈli dʒəs/
occurs in American English, though not in British English, and criticism of the newer pronunciation has almost disappeared. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sacrilegious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It would have seemed as sacrilegious as to take the chalice off the church altar, and melt its silver and jewels in the fire.

    The Waters of Edera Louise de la Rame, a.k.a. Ouida
  • For it is impossible, as well as sacrilegious, to be as quick as Baedeker.

  • Rama instantly starts for the forest, discovers Sambuka in the sacrilegious act and strikes off his head.

  • Such a thing would have been horrible, revolting, sacrilegious.

    The Life of Cesare Borgia Raphael Sabatini
  • No fear exists that sacrilegious hands would dare purloin any thing from the sacred walls; alas!

  • What miscreant hero had dared perform this sacrilegious exploit?

    Tom, Dick and Harry Talbot Baines Reed
  • Do you renounce your apparitions and visions as false, sacrilegious, and diabolical?

British Dictionary definitions for sacrilegious


of, relating to, or involving sacrilege; impious
guilty of sacrilege
Derived Forms
sacrilegiously, adverb
sacrilegiousness, noun
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 sacrilegious

mid-15c., from Latin sacrilegiosum, from sacrilegium (see sacrilege). As a noun, "one who commits a sacrilege," early 14c. Related: Sacrilegiously; sacrilegiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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