View synonyms for heretic


[ noun her-i-tik; adjective her-i-tik, huh-ret-ik ]


  1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by their church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.

    Synonyms: backslider, Protestant, recreant, apostate

  2. Roman Catholic Church. a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
  3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

    Synonyms: freethinker, skeptic, dissenter



/ hɪˈrɛtɪkəl; ˈhɛrətɪk /


  1. RC Church a person who maintains beliefs contrary to the established teachings of the Church
  2. a person who holds unorthodox opinions in any field


  1. One who challenges the doctrines of an established church (see also established church ). Martin Luther was proclaimed a heretic for rejecting many of the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church .

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Derived Forms

  • heˈretically, adverb
  • heretical, adjective

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Other Words From

  • semi·here·tic adjective noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of heretic1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English heretik from Middle French heretique from Late Latin haereticus from Greek hairetikós “able to choose” ( Late Greek: “heretical”), equivalent to hairet(ós) “that may be taken” (verbal adjective of haireîn “to choose”) + -ikos -ic

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Example Sentences

His reign was rubbed out because his father, Akhenaten, was a “heretic king” who alienated his own people by banishing the worship of all Egyptian gods save for one.

While a student in London, he had earned a reputation as a “scientific heretic, given to sweeping claims,” according to a paper coauthored by a colleague.

Elected leaders willing to challenge the vocal parts of the base know that the media and their intraparty opponents will leap at the chance to cast them as heretics, probably with some effect.

Theocratic militants from either group view these Shiite Muslims as heretics, and anxious Hazaras are now forming a militia in the mountains of Wardak province, noting that they have no choice but to take up arms if the Americans leave.

From Ozy

Her latest book, Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation, will be published in April by HarperCollins.

In a 2009 profile of the right-wing firebrand, The New Yorker called Savage “a heretic among heretics.”

So how is she going to live in this society where you die for being a heretic?

The Heretic Andrew Ferguson, The Weekly Standard Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him?

As is so often the case in religious history, it is the heretic who shows the weakness of the believer.

Entrez donc, 'tis the work of one of your compatriots; and here, though a heretic, you may consider yourself on English ground.

A heretic in medicine being indisposed, his physician happened to call.

Let us suppose that any one who denied the old crude errors of astrology was persecuted as a heretic.

The courtesy of the aged Bossuet, the glory of the Church of Rome, was long gratefully remembered by the young heretic.

The Church adjudged Simone heretic, and condemned her for salutary penance to the bread of suffering and the water of affliction.


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