[ dawg-muh, dog- ]
/ ˈdɔg mə, ˈdɒg- /
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noun, plural dog·mas or (Rare) dog·ma·ta [dawg-muh-tuh]. /ˈdɔg mə tə/.

an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church.
a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption;the recently defined dogma of papal infallibility.
prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group: the difficulty of resisting political dogma.
a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle: the classic dogma of objectivity in scientific observation.
1 doctrine, teachings, set of beliefs, philosophy.



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Origin of dogma

First recorded in 1530–40; from Latin: “philosophical tenet, principle, dogma,” from Greek dógma “what seems good, opinion, belief, (in philosophy) doctrine; decision, public decree, ordinance,” equivalent to dok(eîn) “to expect, think, seem, seem good, pretend” + -ma noun suffix
In the early 16th century, dogma entered English from the Latin term meaning “philosophical tenet.” The Greek word from which it is borrowed means “that which one thinks is true,” and comes ultimately from the Greek dokeîn, which means “to seem good” or “think.”
The origin of the word dogma acts as a reminder to English speakers that now established principles and doctrines were once simply thoughts and opinions of ordinary people that gained popularity and eventually found their way into the universal consciousness of society. Twentieth-century American academic and aphorist Mason Cooley concisely observed that “Under attack, sentiments harden into dogma,” suggesting that dogma is spawned as a defensive act. This idea implies that for every dogma that exists, there is a counter dogma. With so many “truths” out there, there is sure to be a dogma to conveniently fit every set of beliefs.

Dogma: A film written and directed by Kevin Smith, released in 1999.
—Dogma 95: A movement in cinema started by Danish director Lars von Trier in 1995, which established filmmaking constraints such as no use of special effects.
  • "Let it be understood once for all that Catholic dogma does not fix a limit to the operations of reason in dealing with divine truth. "
    -A. N. Littlejohn Catholic Dogma: Its Nature and Obligations Catholic Dogma (1892)
  • "Since the time of Moses Mendelssohn (1728–1786), the chief Jewish dogma has been that Judaism has no dogmas. "
    -Israel Abrahams Judaism (1907)
  • "To me there was no question so important as the emancipation of women from the dogmas of the past, political, religious, and social. "
    -Elizabeth Cady Stanton Eighty years and more: Reminiscences 1815-1897 (1898)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for dogma

/ (ˈdɒɡmə) /

noun plural -mas or -mata (-mətə)

a religious doctrine or system of doctrines proclaimed by ecclesiastical authority as true
a belief, principle, or doctrine or a code of beliefs, principles, or doctrinesMarxist dogma
C17: via Latin from Greek: opinion, belief, from dokein to seem good
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

Cultural definitions for dogma


A teaching or set of teachings laid down by a religious group, usually as part of the essential beliefs of the group.

The term dogma is often applied to statements put forward by someone who thinks, inappropriately, that they should be accepted without proof.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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