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


a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
Roman Catholic Church. a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.


Origin of heretic

1300–50; Middle English heretik < Middle French heretique < Late Latin haereticus < Greek hairetikós able to choose (Late Greek: heretical), equivalent to hairet(ós) that may be taken (verbal adjective of haireîn to choose) + -ikos -ic
Related formssem·i·her·e·tic, adjective, noun

Synonyms for heretic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heretic

Contemporary Examples of heretic

Historical Examples of heretic

  • And first, Mr. Blindman, the foreman, said: I see clearly that this man is a heretic.


    James Anthony Froude

  • Doctors of divinity said, "He is a heretic; he contradicts the Bible."

  • People of the only true faith cannot bear to be governed by a heretic nation.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • So long as a heretic power is at the head, so long Ireland will be discontented.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • Heretic he may be, but he has the trust of Ramon Rotil, and of me.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

British Dictionary definitions for heretic



mainly RC Church a person who maintains beliefs contrary to the established teachings of the Church
a person who holds unorthodox opinions in any field
Derived Formsheretical (hɪˈrɛtɪkəl), adjectiveheretically, adverb
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 heretic

mid-14c., from Old French eretique (14c., Modern French hérétique), from Church Latin haereticus, from Greek hairetikos "able to choose," the verbal adjective of hairein (see heresy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for heretic


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.

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.