Definitions

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

  • n. An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.
  • n. A belief, practice, or rite irrationally maintained by ignorance of the laws of nature or by faith in magic or chance.
  • n. A fearful or abject state of mind resulting from such ignorance or irrationality.
  • n. Idolatry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A belief, not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one's behaviour in some magical or mystical way.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An excessive reverence for, or fear of, that which is unknown or mysterious.
  • n. An ignorant or irrational worship of the Supreme Deity; excessive exactness or rigor in religious opinions or practice; extreme and unnecessary scruples in the observance of religious rites not commanded, or of points of minor importance; also, a rite or practice proceeding from excess of sculptures in religion.
  • n. The worship of a false god or gods; false religion; religious veneration for objects.
  • n. Belief in the direct agency of superior powers in certain extraordinary or singular events, or in magic, omens, prognostics, or the like.
  • n. Excessive nicety; scrupulous exactness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An ignorant or irrational fear of that which is unknown or mysterious; especially, such fear of some invisible existence or existences; specifically, religious belief or practice, or both, founded on irrational fear or credulity; excessive or unreasonable religious scruples produced by credulous fears.
  • n. A religious belief or a system of religion regarded as based on ignorance and fear; especially, the worship of false gods, as induced by fear; pagan religious doctrines and practices.
  • n. Hence, any false or unreasonable belief tenaciously held: as, popular superstitions.
  • n. Excessive nicety; scrupulous exactness.
  • n. Idolatrous devotion.
  • n. = Syn. 1–3. Superstition, Credulity, Fanaticism, Bigotry. Credulity is a general readiness to believe what one is told, without sufficient evidence. Superstition may be the result of credulity in regard to religious beliefs or duties or as to the supernatural. As compared with fanaticism it is a state of fears on the one side and rigorous observances on the other, both proceeding from an oppression of the mind by its beliefs, while fanaticism is too highly wrought in its excitement for fear or for attention to details of conduct. Fanaticism is a half-crazy substitution of fancies for reason, primarily in the field of religion, but secondarily in politics, etc. Fanaticism is demonstrative, being often ready to undertake, in obedience to its supposed duty or call by special revelation, tasks that are commonly considered wicked or treated as criminal. Bigotry is less a matter of action: subjectively it is a blind refusal to entertain the idea of correctness or excellence in religious opinions or practices other than one's own; objectively it is an attitude matching such a state of mind. Credulity is opposed to skepticism, superstition to irreverence, fanaticism to indifference, bigotry to latitudinarianism. See enthusiastic.

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

  • n. an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear

Etymologies

Middle English supersticion, from Old French superstition, from Latin superstitiō, superstitiōn-, from superstes, superstit-, standing over.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The KJV uses the word superstition for religion, which is translated from the Greek text as deisidaimonia.

    God is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu …

  • Those who use the term superstition generically, still call the custom superstitious, from a latent and, perhaps, in some cases, unconscious impression that there is no supernatural.

    An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800

  • Beyond this superstition is an accurate comprehension that every human being on the planet is more closely related that most people know or would feel comfortable knowing.

    Happy Birthday, Jesse

  • One would imagine, that their husbands and fuhcrs thought them only child-ren of this world, and not heirs of a better hope, by the little care taken in improving their understanding: and were it not for the religion of the country, which we call superstition, half the Italian world of women would be looked upon merely as temporary idols for men to worship for temporary gratifications only.

    Sir Charles Grandison

  • He would do anything, anything, to break what he calls the superstition of the Cross.

    The Complete Father Brown

  • "But in giving up what you call superstition," said the Rabbi, "are you not giving up a portion of your religion as well?"

    Rabbi and Priest A Story

  • "You laugh," he said, "but the active force of a superstition -- what we call a superstition -- is sometimes a terrible thing."

    Brood of the Witch-Queen

  • Upon the uninformed, upon the majority, we may therefore conclude, in every nation thus situated, the effect of such a superstition is a complete mistake as to the grounds of safety; ...

    Autobiography and Other Memorials of Mrs. Gilbert, Formerly Ann Taylor

  • He hates what he calls superstition, and I fancy has curiosity enough not to object to a search.

    Donal Grant, by George MacDonald

  • Mr. Arnold's usual hatred of what he called superstition, was rendered yet more spiteful by the fact, that the occurrences of the week had had such an effect on his own mind, that he was mortally afraid lest he should himself sink into the same limbo of vanity.

    David Elginbrod

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