[ ahy-dol-uh-truhs ]
/ aɪˈdɒl ə trəs /
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worshiping idols.
blindly adoring.
of or relating to idolatry.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of idolatrous

First recorded in 1540–50; idolatr(y) + -ous


Words nearby idolatrous

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does idolatrous mean?

Idolatrous is used to describe someone who worships an idol or idols—objects or images, such as statues, that are worshipped as the representations of deities or gods.

The word idol can also refer to the deity or god that is being worshipped.

An idolatrous person can be called an idolater, and the practice of worshipping idols is called idolatry (or idol worship). Idolatrous can also be used to describe such practices or anything involving idolatry.

This sense of idolatrous and its related terms are typically used in a negative, judgmental way, implying that the god that the idolater worships is not actually real and that such worship is wrong or sinful.

A well-known example of an idol mentioned in a story in the Bible is the statue of a golden calf that the Israelites were said to have made while Moses was away receiving the Ten Commandments (which prohibit the worship of idols or “graven images”).

Sometimes, idol is used in a metaphorical way to compare something to an object of religious devotion and worship, and idolatrous can describe such devotion, as in Her love of money is downright idolatrous. This sense of the word is also used in a critical way.

Idol is also commonly used in a figurative way to refer to a person, especially a famous celebrity such as a pop singer, whom someone treats with extreme admiration and devotion. The word sometimes implies that such devotion is excessive, likening it to religious worship. The word idolatrous can be used to describe this kind of fandom, but it is much more commonly used in a religious context.

Example: Followers of certain forms of Christianity are sometimes accused of being idolatrous by other Christians, who object to their use of religious iconography.

Where does idolatrous come from?

The first records of the word idolatrous come from the 1500s. The word idol comes from the Greek eídōlon, meaning “image,” from eîdos, meaning “shape and form.” In idolatry, the ending -latry means “worship.” The suffix -ous is to form adjectives.

Although the word idol can refer to a deity being worshipped, it typically refers to a physical object or image that has been made to represent the deity. Some religions prohibit any such likenesses of a deity or religious figure, considering anyone who uses such images to be idolatrous.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to idolatrous?

What are some synonyms for idolatrous?

  • idol-worshipping

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

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


How is idolatrous used in real life?

The word idolatrous is usually used in a judgmental way regardless of whether it’s used figuratively or in a religious context.


Try using idolatrous!

Which of the following terms can be used as a synonym of idolatrous?

A. idol-worshipping
B. idle-worshipping
C. idyll-worshipping
D. ideal-worshipping

How to use idolatrous in a sentence