Definitions

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

  • adj. Dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity.
  • adj. Worthy of religious veneration: the sacred teachings of the Buddha.
  • adj. Made or declared holy: sacred bread and wine.
  • adj. Dedicated or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person: sacred to the memory of her sister; a private office sacred to the President.
  • adj. Worthy of respect; venerable.
  • adj. Of or relating to religious objects, rites, or practices.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Set apart by solemn religious ceremony; especially, in a good sense, made holy; set apart to religious use; consecrated; not profane or common; as, a sacred place; a sacred day; sacred service.
  • adj. Relating to religion, or to the services of religion; not secular; religious; as, sacred history.
  • adj. Designated or exalted by a divine sanction; possessing the highest title to obedience, honor, reverence, or veneration; entitled to extreme reverence; venerable.
  • adj. Hence, not to be profaned or violated; inviolable.
  • adj. Consecrated; dedicated; devoted; -- with to.
  • adj. Solemnly devoted, in a bad sense, as to evil, vengeance, curse, or the like; accursed; baleful.
  • v. Simple past tense and past participle of sacre.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Set apart by solemn religious ceremony; especially, in a good sense, made holy; set apart to religious use; consecrated; not profane or common.
  • adj. Relating to religion, or to the services of religion; not secular; religious.
  • adj. Designated or exalted by a divine sanction; possessing the highest title to obedience, honor, reverence, or veneration; entitled to extreme reverence; venerable.
  • adj. Hence, not to be profaned or violated; inviolable.
  • adj. Consecrated; dedicated; devoted; -- with to.
  • adj. Solemnly devoted, in a bad sense, as to evil, vengeance, curse, or the like; accursed; baleful.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Hallowed, consecrated, or made holy by association with divinity or divine things, or by solemn religious ceremony or sanction; set apart, dedicated, or appropriated to holy or religious purposes or service; regarded as holy or under divine protection: as, a sacred place; a sacred day; sacred service; the sacred lotus.
  • Devoted, dedicated, or consecrated with pious or filial intent: with to: as, a monument sacred to the memory of some one.
  • Devoted to destruction or infamy; execrable; accursed; infamous.
  • Of or pertaining to religion or divine things; relating to the service or will of the deity: opposed to secular and profane: as, sacred music; sacred history.
  • Entitled to consideration, respect, or reverence; not to be thoughtlessly treated or intruded upon; venerable.
  • Hence To be kept inviolate; not to be violated, profaned, or made common; inviolate.
  • Not amenable to punishment; enjoying immunity: as, the king's person is sacred.
  • Synonyms Sacred, Holy. Holy is stronger and more absolute than any word of cognate meaning. That which is sacred may derive its sanction from man; that which is holy has its sanctity directly from God or as connected with him. Hence we speak of the Holy Bible, and the sacred writings of the Hindus. He who is holy is absolutely or essentially free from sin; sacred is not a word of personal character. The opposite of holy is sinful or wicked; that of sacred is secular, profane, or common.

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

  • adj. (often followed by `to') devoted exclusively to a single use or purpose or person
  • adj. worthy of religious veneration
  • adj. worthy of respect or dedication
  • adj. made or declared or believed to be holy; devoted to a deity or some religious ceremony or use
  • adj. concerned with religion or religious purposes

Etymologies

Middle English, past participle of sacren, to consecrate, from Old French sacrer, from Latin sacrāre, from sacer, sacr-, sacred; see sak- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sacred, isacred, past participle of Middle English sacren, sakeren ("to make holy, hallow"), equivalent to sacre +‎ -ed. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Maddy not being what she seemed would be a uniquely dismal disappointment, the sort of thing that makes you say, Jesus, is nothing sacred? From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 21, 2012