Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Desecration, profanation, misuse, or theft of something regarded as sacred.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The violation, desecration, or profanation of sacred things.
  • noun In a more specific sense: The alienation to laymen or to common purposes of that which has been appropriated or consecrated to religious persons or uses.
  • noun The felonious taking of any goods out of any church or chapel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The sin or crime of violating or profaning sacred things; the alienating to laymen, or to common purposes, what has been appropriated or consecrated to religious persons or uses.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun desecration, profanation, misuse or violation of something regarded as sacred

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

  • noun blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sacrilegium, from sacrilegus, one who steals sacred things : sacer, sacred; see sacred + legere, to gather; see leg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Circa 1300, original sense “stealing something sacred”. From Old French sacrilege, from Latin sacrilegium, from sacrilegus ("sacrilegious"), from phrase sacrum legere, from sacrum (from sacer ("sacred, holy")) + legō ("gather; take, steal"), from Proto-Indo-European *sak- and Proto-Indo-European *leǵ-. Sense of “profanation” from late 14th century.

Examples

  • Thwackum was resolved a crime of this kind, which he called sacrilege, should not go unpunished.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

  • Thwackum was resolved a crime of this kind, which he called sacrilege, should not go unpunished.

    IX. Containing an Incident of a More Heinous Kind. Book III

  • Thwackum was resolved a crime of this kind, which he called sacrilege, should not go unpunished.

    History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

  • Driven by myth [...] horror can only be expressed by and in sacrilege: the impious cults, hideous ceremonies, blasphemous rites elsewhere mentioned, which tell a reverse history of salvation.

    Archive 2010-03-01

  • Driven by myth [...] horror can only be expressed by and in sacrilege: the impious cults, hideous ceremonies, blasphemous rites elsewhere mentioned, which tell a reverse history of salvation.

    Dark Awakenings and Cosmic Horror : The Lovecraft News Network

  • Recognition that a Muslim state might commit the ultimate in sacrilege by beheading a person who had been dangled on the Prophet's knee has imbued modern political Shiism with a distrust of the state.

    Iran Election Live-Blogging (Thursday June 18)

  • Another example which complements this intra-cultural sacrilege, as a case of cross-cultural sacrilege, is that of the Mohammed cartoons.

    The Sacred Domain

  • I wasn't sure how far I wanted to go into this part of the debate because I think sacrilege is something of a separate issue here which complexifies things greatly, so I probably gave the Art and Religion relationship short shrift.

    Archive 2006-09-01

  • So what if we want to argue that this sacrilege is valid?

    Archive 2006-09-01

  • I wasn't sure how far I wanted to go into this part of the debate because I think sacrilege is something of a separate issue here which complexifies things greatly, so I probably gave the Art and Religion relationship short shrift.

    The Sacred Domain

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