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

  • n. One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Guilty of apostasy.
  • n. A person who has renounced a religion or faith.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to, or characterized by, apostasy; faithless to moral allegiance; renegade.
  • n. One who has forsaken the faith, principles, or party, to which he before adhered; esp., one who has forsaken his religion for another; a pervert; a renegade.
  • n. One who, after having received sacred orders, renounces his clerical profession.
  • intransitive v. To apostatize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who is guilty of apostasy; one who has forsaken the church, sect, party, profession, or opinion to which he before adhered (used in reproach); a renegade; a pervert.
  • n. In the Roman Catholic Church, one who, without obtaining a formal dispensation, forsakes a religious order of which he has made profession. Synonyms
  • Unfaithful to religious creed, or to moral or political principle; traitorous to allegiance; false; renegade: as, “the apostate lords,” Macaulay, Hist. Eng., i.
  • To apostatize.

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

  • adj. not faithful to religion or party or cause
  • n. a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc.


Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin apostata, from Greek apostatēs, from aphistanai, to revolt; see apostasy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin apostata, from Ancient Greek ἀποστασία (apostasia, "defection, revolt"), from ἀφίστημι (aphistēmi, "I withdraw, revolt"), from ἀπό (apo, "from") + ἵστημι (histēmi, "I stand") (Wiktionary)



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  • I was interested to learn in John Wells's phonetic blog of 1 July 2008 that the traditional pronunciation of this is stressed on the /pɒ/. He says dictionaries only give /əˈpɒsteɪt/, though actually the OED (2nd ed.) gives only /əˈpɒstət/ with weak final syllable. I have always thought of it the way the BBC said it, viz /ˈæpəsteɪt/, though of course I've presumably never actually heard it or had occasion to say it.

    July 3, 2008

  • It seems like every bloody article mentioning John McCain describes him as an “apostate�?.

    February 11, 2008

  • David Eddings uses this word to describe a character in the Belgariad.

    July 3, 2007

  • Only at the apostake.

    July 2, 2007

  • We found an apostate, may we burn her?

    July 2, 2007

  • Or they may apply it to themselves ironically, acknowledging that *they* consider *me* an apostate.

    July 2, 2007

  • Very few former believers call themselves apostates and they generally consider this term to be a pejorative.

    July 2, 2007