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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.
Origin of sacrilege
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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sacrilege
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was sacrilege to think of changing such old, venerable things.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • They could not, above all, endure this immensity of perjury and sacrilege.

  • We have treated of sacrilege, and of conspiracy, and of treason.

    Laws Plato
  • His horror at the sacrilege was so ludicrous that Kendrick laughed aloud.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • Look at our sacraments—are they a lie, or are they a sacrilege?

    The Christian Hall Caine
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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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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