• synonyms


noun, plural au·tos-da-fé.
  1. the public declaration of the judgment passed on persons tried in the courts of the the Spanish Inquisition, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed, especially the burning of condemned heretics at the stake.
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Origin of auto-da-fé

1715–25; < Portuguese: act of the faith
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for auto-da-fe

Historical Examples of auto-da-fe

  • He had been unable to attend the auto-da-fe at which the heretics were committed to the flames.

    Barbara Blomberg, Complete

    Georg Ebers

  • Princes of the Church and magistrates were present at these auto-da-fe.

  • He must have seen the horizon of the future red with the flames of the Auto-da-Fe.

    The Christian Religion

    Robert G. Ingersoll

  • Judas serves in Brazil for a Guy Faux to be carried about by the boys, and made the subject of an auto-da-fe.

    Ten Thousand Wonderful Things

    Edmund Fillingham King

  • It is Kropotkine especially who attributes immense importance to these auto-da-fe.

    Anarchism and Socialism

    George Plechanoff

British Dictionary definitions for auto-da-fe


noun plural autos-da-fé
  1. history a ceremony of the Spanish Inquisition including the pronouncement and execution of sentences passed on sinners or heretics
  2. the burning to death of people condemned as heretics by the Inquisition
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Word Origin for auto-da-fé

C18: from Portuguese, literally: act of the faith
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 auto-da-fe


1723, "sentence passed by the Inquisition" (plural autos-da-fé), from Portuguese auto-da-fé "judicial sentence or act of the faith," especially the public burning of a heretic, from Latin actus de fide, literally "act of faith." Although the Spanish Inquisition is better-known today, there also was one in Portugal.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper