[ uh-pos-teyt, -tit ]
/ əˈpɒs teɪt, -tɪt /
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a person who forsakes his religion, cause, party, etc.
of or characterized by apostasy.
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Origin of apostate

1300–50; Middle English <Late Latin apostata<Greek apostátēs, equivalent to aposta- (see apostasy) + -tēs noun suffix


ap·o·stat·i·cal·ly [ap-uh-stat-ik-lee], /ˌæp əˈstæt ɪk li/, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does apostate mean?

An apostate is someone who has totally abandoned or rejected their religion.

It can also be used in a slightly more general way to refer to someone who has totally abandoned or rejected their principles, cause, party, or other organization.

The word typically implies that before the rejection, one had a strong connection or involvement.

The act of such abandoning or rejecting is called apostasy. Both apostasy and apostate are usually used in a way that’s critical of such abandonment—or that at least implies that others who remain in the religion or cause are critical of the departure.

Apostate is sometimes used more specifically to refer to someone who rejects Christianity, but the term is also used in the context of other religions, such as Islam.

Less commonly, apostate can be used as an adjective meaning guilty of apostasy or characterized by apostasy, as in He was condemned for his apostate writings. 

Example: The pastor’s sermon condemned apostasy—the trouble is, the apostates weren’t there to hear it.

Where does apostate come from?

The first records of the word apostate come from the 1300s. Apostacy comes from the Late Latin apostasia, meaning “a standing away” or “withdrawing.” Both apostasy and apostate ultimately derive from the Greek apóstas(is), meaning “desertion.” The root apo- means “away,” “off,” or “apart.” (Apo– is also used in the similar-sounding but almost opposite word apostle, which comes from a Greek term meaning “one who is sent forth”)

An apostate is someone who stands away from something (or someone) that they used to stand with. This often involves the total rejection of a belief system that they used to subscribe to, especially a religious one. Even when apostate is used in other ways, such a person is likened in seriousness to a person rejecting their religion. For example, a politician who leaves their party for a rival one might be labeled an apostate or accused of apostasy. On the other hand, the term heretic (which can also be used in a literal or more figurative way) refers to a person who rejects or contradicts a certain belief or doctrine within a religion or other system without abandoning it completely.

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What are some other forms related to apostate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with apostate



What are some words that often get used in discussing apostate?


How is apostate used in real life?

Apostate is usually used seriously and negatively. It’s most often used in reference to religion, but it’s also used in politics and other contexts.



Try using apostate!

Which of the following actions is NOT associated with apostates

A. renunciation
B. rejection
C. acceptance
D. abandonment

How to use apostate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for apostate

/ (əˈpɒsteɪt, -tɪt) /

a person who abandons his religion, party, cause, etc
guilty of apostasy

Derived forms of apostate

apostatical (ˌæpəˈstætɪkəl), adjective
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