Definition of heretic in English:



  • 1A person believing in or practising religious heresy.

    • ‘I think about Galileo dropping differently weighted things from the tower, only to be branded a heretic.’
    • ‘That was when people began to rebel against their unfair practises and that was when the Priests began condemning people to death, claiming they were heretics and rebels.’
    • ‘Declared a heretic by the Pope he was banished from Rome and subsequently vanished, presumed murdered.’
    • ‘Galileo was forced to repudiate his scientific knowledge lest he be declared a heretic by the official church.’
    • ‘They sought regeneration - a regeneration we can liken to that of the medieval heretic or saint.’
    • ‘The heretics Marcion and Valentinus believed that God was androgynous.’
    • ‘We went to a Catholic school; yet we were known to the nuns to be the children of heretics who had rejected the Pope's rulings.’
    • ‘Predictably, those trying to be midwives to these new theologies (note the plural) are being criticized as heretics, unorthodox, disturbers of the peace, etc.’
    • ‘Can those of you who believe that pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics can share in eternal life explain how you interpret this?’
    • ‘It clearly would cover any incitement of hatred by the religious against its heretics, apostates, or members of other faiths.’
    • ‘If the term ‘Christian’ is taken to include heretics, schismatics, and baptized apostates, it would still appear that most are damned.’
    • ‘Any uprisings caused by religious heretics could bring pain and suffering to the whole Jewish population.’
    • ‘The Hussites, on the other hand, who broke away from the Holy Roman Empire in both political and religious senses, were heretics.’
    • ‘He was also an ardent heretic and freethinker, maybe an out-and-out atheist, and a vocal defender of the ideas of Charles Darwin.’
    • ‘With the exception of Pangloss, the three other heretics are burned at the stake.’
    • ‘Care needs to be taken to distinguish between teachers that are misguided and those that are rank heretics who have rejected the faith.’
    • ‘The new religions exalt secular saints, enforce dogma, punish heretics, value self-sacrifice, and sanctify writings.’
    • ‘I am English, born in Britain, but I am referred to as a heretic, unbeliever, infidel, etc., because I am a Pagan.’
    • ‘Consequently those who came to believe that orthodox teaching was inadequate or wrong risked being declared heretics.’
    • ‘Persecuting witches or merely criticizing nonbelievers (as infidels, heretics, pagans, or gentiles) can unite the Faithful.’
    dissident, dissenter, nonconformist, unorthodox thinker, heterodox thinker, apostate, freethinker, iconoclast, schismatic, renegade
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    1. 1.1 A person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.
      • ‘Like a number of other similar heretics, I believe that - upsetting as this may be to many, and provoking once again the fury of transplant surgeons - people from whom organs are harvested for transplants are not necessarily dead.’
      • ‘What we should not do is suppress dissent, close off argument and condemn those who question the standard line as heretics.’
      • ‘If he intervened to prevent her death, he would be branded a heretic.’
      • ‘Writers and engravers of pornography came out of the demimonde of heretics, freethinkers and libertines who made up the underside of those formative Western developments.’
      • ‘On a global scale the critics of the system are labelled heretics and on a micro scale people like me still seek refuge in shopping when it all gets too much.’
      • ‘Exploring the details of Farmer's life, however, reveals that she is, in a sense, not only the Lost Atheist, but also a feminist, a heretic, a social radical.’
      • ‘They regard opposition leaders, black and white, not only as political rivals but as dangerous religious heretics.’
      • ‘They were not, according to an older version of history that Johnson appears to accept, merely heretics reacting against an established orthodoxy.’
      • ‘Perhaps Huck is even asking the essential question for heretics who believed in the duality of creation.’
      • ‘George was set upon as heretic, denounced as a traitor and his government contract for a school history book mysteriously cancelled without explanation.’
      • ‘Bretz was called a dunce and a heretic, but over time his work became widely accepted.’
      • ‘It is odd - odd in the extreme - that Barns, the iconoclast, the heretic, uncritically accepts the myths surrounding the birth of the Liberal Party propagated by the elders of the tribe.’
      • ‘The mob's ability to shout down and punish the heretics is present even today.’
      • ‘He was called a heretic and a rebel, but one who transformed his rebellion into art.’
      • ‘This issue features the shy guys and gals of Belle and Sebastian and Muse's Matt Bellamy under the spotlight, while the Human League are subjected to the rock 'n' roll heretic's obligatory critical eye.’
      • ‘Rejected as heretics only a few yeas ago, the ‘New Paradigmers’ - spreading the gospel of New Economy - have now become mainstreamers.’
      • ‘If the teacher is a leader, he must also be a sentry - a heretic to criticize the fools who would cast his pupils back into the dark ignorance they had just escaped.’
      • ‘It enjoys demonising the elected representatives of the labour movement and treats its left critics as heretics to be cast aside and scorned.’
      • ‘Pooh-Bah's remark that he had evolved ‘from a globule of primordial protoplasm’ is even said to have ignited a popular interest in biology and the theories of Darwin, who had until then been rejected as a flaky heretic.’
      • ‘But you're really risking being branded a heretic just at the moment.’
      critic, sceptic, questioner
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Middle English: from Old French heretique, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek hairetikos ‘able to choose’ (in ecclesiastical Greek, ‘heretical’), from haireomai ‘choose’.