[ ahy-dol-uh-tree ]
/ aɪˈdɒl ə tri /
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noun, plural i·dol·a·tries.
the religious worship of idols.
excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc.
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Origin of idolatry

1200–50; Middle English idolatrie<Medieval Latin īdōlatrīa, by haplology from Late Latin īdōlolatrīaGreek (NT) eidōlolatreía.See idol, -latry


self-i·dol·a·try, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does idolatry mean?

Idolatry is the worship of 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.

Idolatry is sometimes called idol worship and the people who worship idols can be called idolaters. The adjective idolatrous can be used to describe idolaters or their practices.

This sense of idolatry and its related terms are typically used in a negative, judgmental way, implying that the god that the idol represents is not actually real and that such idolatry is wrong or sinful. In this way, an idol is sometimes called a false idol.

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

Sometimes, idol is used in a metaphorical way to compare something to an object of religious devotion and worship, and such devotion can also be called idolatry, as in The endless pursuit of wealth is a form of idolatry. 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 idolatry can be used to refer to this kind of fandom, but it is much more commonly used in a religious context.

Example: Most people don’t bow down before statues, but they engage in other forms of idolatry, like an obsession with material possessions.

Where does idolatry come from?

The first records of the word idolatry come from the 1200s. The word idol comes from the Greek eídōlon, meaning “image,” from eîdos, meaning “shape and form.” The ending -latry means “worship.”

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 them to be a form of idolatry.

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What are some other forms related to idolatry?

What are some synonyms for idolatry?

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


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


How is idolatry used in real life?

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


Try using idolatry!

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

A. idol worship
B. idle worship
C. idyll worship
D. ideal worship

How to use idolatry in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for idolatry

/ (aɪˈdɒlətrɪ) /

the worship of idols
great devotion or reverence

Derived forms of idolatry

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