Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A formal ecclesiastical ban, curse, or excommunication.
  • n. A vehement denunciation; a curse: "the sound of a witch's anathemas in some unknown tongue” ( Nathaniel Hawthorne).
  • n. One that is cursed or damned.
  • n. One that is greatly reviled, loathed, or shunned: "Essentialism—a belief in natural, immutable sex differences—is anathema to postmodernists, for whom sexuality itself, along with gender, is a 'social construct'” ( Wendy Kaminer).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity by ecclesiastical authority, often accompanied by excommunication; denunciation of anything as accursed.
  • n. An imprecation; a curse; a malediction.
  • n. Any person or thing anathematized, or cursed by ecclesiastical authority.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity by ecclesiastical authority, and accompanied by excommunication. Hence: Denunciation of anything as accursed.
  • n. An imprecation; a curse; a malediction.
  • n. Any person or thing anathematized, or cursed by ecclesiastical authority.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person or thing held to be accursed or devoted to damnation or destruction.
  • n. A curse or denunciation pronounced with religious solemnity by ecclesiastical authority, involving excommunication.
  • n. Hence Any imprecation of divine punishment; a curse; an execration.
  • n. Anything devoted to religious uses.
  • n. A phrase, properly two separate words (see etymology), occurring in the following passage, where it is popularly regarded (and hence sometimes elsewhere used) as an intenser form of anathema.
  • n. Synonyms and Curse, Execration, etc. See malediction.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a formal ecclesiastical curse accompanied by excommunication
  • n. a detested person

Etymologies

Late Latin anathema, doomed offering, accursed thing, from Greek, from anatithenai, anathe-, to dedicate : ana-, ana- + tithenai, to put; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin anathema ("curse, person cursed, offering"), from Ancient Greek ἀνάθεμα (anathema, "something dedicated, especially dedicated to evil"), from ἀνατίθημι (anatithēmi, "I set upon, offer as a votive gift"), from ἀνά (ana, "upon") + τίθημι (tithēmi, "I put, place"). The Ancient Greek term was influenced by Hebrew חרם (herem), leading to the sense of "accursed," especially in Ecclesiastical writers. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Of course (he says self-servingly) the No Spin Zone rejects predictability entirely and lives to ask questions that require actual thought, a word anathema to most politicians in this age of spin.

    Blood Sugar

  • I'm just excited I used the word anathema in a sentence!

    Why Suzy Needs Therapy

  • The word anathema frequently occurs in St. Paul's writings, and is generally translated accused.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary

  • A solemn anathema is pronounced against Nestorius and Eutyches; against all heretics by whom Christ is divided, or confounded, or reduced to a phantom.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • So across the political spectrum, for anyone thinking in essentialist terms, the mores render the word anathema from both directions.

    On Profanity: 3

  • The word is anathema to conservative or middle-of-the-road politicians in most countries, who see in it a radical and perhaps exaggerated voice.

    Why there's no reason to fear feminism | Jonathan Glennie

  • Even lifestyle choices like driving a small car, carpooling and living in the vicinity of where we work are largely anathema, which is why I'm not the least bit shocked by the Lexus LS 600h L.

    Pale Green -- Lexus's $100,000 Hybrid

  • Curse Alviarin and that triply cursed proclamation calling anathema on anyone who approached him save through the Tower.

    Knife of Dreams

  • The Greek word anathema, Hebrew herem, means to accurse, execrate, to damn.

    A Commentary on St. Paul���s Epistle to the Galatians

  • He raved against the workers for choosing a non-Communist, called anathema upon their heads, and threatened them with the Tcheka and the curtailment of their rations.

    My Disillusionment in Russia

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • See lycanthropic

    March 3, 2012

  • Therefore, the increased SHBG under conditions of fat metabolism is anathema to the steroid-suppression of SHBG release model.

    April 24, 2010

  • This word is usually used without any article, so for the Studio 60 quote, I would say, "Quality is not anathema to profit."

    February 16, 2009

  • quality is not an anathema to profit - Studio 60

    February 16, 2009

  • "The final reason for the cessation of violence was the stand-down by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which is lying low. That stand-down, which can be reversed at any time, was brokered by -- Iran. But Iran is playing all sides: It supports both Maliki and Sadr. The U.S. simply cannot compete in this kind of deep game, at which Iran has excelled for centuries, without diplomatic engagement. But for McCain, that is anathema."
    - Gary Kamiya, 'Remember Iraq?', 30 Sep 2008.

    October 1, 2008