noun, plural a·nath·e·mas.

a person or thing detested or loathed: That subject is anathema to him.
a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
any imprecation of divine punishment.
a curse; execration.

Origin of anathema

1520–30; < Latin < Greek: a thing accursed, devoted to evil, orig. devoted, equivalent to ana(ti)thé(nai) to set up + -ma noun suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for anathema

Contemporary Examples of anathema

Historical Examples of anathema

  • You will do the anathema--rueful rather than enraged--from the tent opening.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • God commands Moses to devote to anathema the Canaanites of the kingdom of Arad.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • He devotes also to anathema all the nations of the land of Canaan.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • Then he flung a hand out at Rotherby in a gesture of repudiation, of anathema.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • There should be launched upon him the anathema of an outraged people.

British Dictionary definitions for anathema


noun plural -mas

a detested person or thinghe is anathema to me
a formal ecclesiastical curse of excommunication or a formal denunciation of a doctrine
the person or thing so cursed
a strong curse; imprecation

Word Origin for anathema

C16: via Church Latin from Greek: something accursed, dedicated (to evil), from anatithenai to dedicate, from ana- + tithenai to set
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

Word Origin and History for anathema

1520s, "an accursed thing," from Latin anathema "an excommunicated person; the curse of excommunication," from Greek anathema "a thing accursed," originally "a thing devoted," literally "a thing set up (to the gods)," from ana- "up" (see ana-) + tithenai "to place," from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious).

Originally simply a votive offering, by the time it reached Latin the meaning had progressed through "thing devoted to evil," to "thing accursed or damned." Later applied to persons and the Divine Curse. Meaning "formal act or formula of consigning to damnation" is from 1610s.

Anathema maranatha, taken as an intensified form, is a misreading of the Syriac maran etha "the Lord hath come," which follows anathema in I Cor. xvi:22, but is not connected with it (see Maranatha).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper