Definition of apostate in US English:



  • A person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle.

    • ‘I see there are also websites run by ex-vegans, apostates as it were, who left the fold chiefly for health reasons.’
    • ‘Those who didn't accept were considered apostates.’
    • ‘Additionally, it should be obvious that this passage is not commanding apostates be put to death by the fact that the early church obviously did not execute apostates.’
    • ‘It clearly would cover any incitement of hatred by the religious against its heretics, apostates, or members of other faiths.’
    • ‘Some were maligned as apostates or heretics, and a few were imprisoned, allegedly for transgressing societal mores.’
    • ‘Career counselors, she argued, have to find ways to persuade unemployed Ph.D.'s to believe that the outside world is not evil and that they are not apostates if they do something besides teaching and research.’
    • ‘Unalloyed enthusiasm for anything is bound to be a mistake, so thank goodness for the critics, the skeptics, the second-thought-havers, and even the outright apostates.’
    • ‘But is it reasonable, or just an article of faith in the marriage religion, that apostates must all be cynics or manipulators?’
    • ‘Unlike communism and socialism, trade unionism has rarely inspired published ‘second thoughts’ by embittered apostates.’
    • ‘We may earnestly believe that they're wrong - whether they're non-Christians, heretics, apostates, agnostics, atheists, or what have you.’
    • ‘If the term ‘Christian’ is taken to include heretics, schismatics, and baptized apostates, it would still appear that most are damned.’
    • ‘They were, inevitably, deposed from office, expelled from the order, and excommunicated - so becoming, ironically, apostates themselves.’
    • ‘The importance of apostates and other religious dissidents is crucial.’
    • ‘All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way…’
    • ‘As Rose writes of the professor, ‘He was drawn to schismatics, fiery heretics, apostates - the lunatics of history.’’
    • ‘Defectors and apostates can't be fined, flogged or banished.’
    • ‘The problem is compounded by the fact that pretty much all orthodox religious establishments tend to be well organised, lavishly funded, and take a robust line against dissenters and apostates.’
    • ‘We still live in an age of martyrs and heroic saints, of apostates and world-weary skeptics.’
    dissenter, heretic, nonconformist
    View synonyms


  • Abandoning a religious or political belief or principle.

    ‘an apostate Roman Catholic’
    • ‘And then, of course, you add to that the fact that I'm a woman and an apostate Jew, both of which make me feel guilty for whatever I'm doing at any given moment, whatever I'm doing.’
    • ‘That said, however, I was not speaking of non-Christians or apostate Catholics in my blog.’
    • ‘A typical military entrepreneur of the 17th century, the Bohemian apostate Protestant Wallenstein is a complex and somewhat mysterious figure.’
    • ‘Then, as now, there were apostate religious leaders; adultery, divorce, falsehood, oppression and cruelty were rife.’
    • ‘Ancient traditions regarding this apostate leader show that he rebelled against God, and in so doing, created a worldwide apostasy.’


Middle English: from ecclesiastical Latin apostata, from Greek apostatēs ‘deserter, runaway slave, apostate’.