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From a cross of bestia (beast) with Old Italian biastemmare, biastemmiare[1], itself from Vulgar Latin *blastēmāre[2], present active infinitive of *blastēmō, from Ecclesiastical Latin, Late Latin blasphēmō, from Ancient Greek βλασφημέω (blasphēméō). Doublet of biasimare, which came through Old French.


  • IPA(key): /bes.temˈ, [bes̪t̪emˈmjäːr̺e̞]
  • Rhymes: -are
  • Stress: bestemmiàre
  • Hyphenation: be‧stem‧mia‧re



  1. to blaspheme, specifically:
    1. (transitive) To speak of, or address, with impious irreverence; to revile impiously (anything sacred).
    2. (intransitive) To commit blasphemy.
    3. (by extension, transitive) To curse.
      • 1321, Dante Alighieri, La divina commedia: Inferno [The Divine Comedy: Hell] (paperback, in Italian), 12th edition, Le Monnier, published 1994, Canto III, lines 103–105, page 43:
        Bestemmiavano Dio e lor parenti, ¶ l’umana spezie e ’l loco e ’l tempo e ’l seme ¶ di lor semenza e di lor nascimenti.
        God they blasphemed and their progenitors, ¶ the human race, the place, the time, the seed ¶ of their engendering and of their birth.
      • 1353, Giovanni Boccaccio, “Giornata nona, Novella I [Ninth Day, First Story]”, in Decamerone [Decameron]‎[1] (in Italian), Tommaso Hedlin, published 1527, page 210:
        Rinuccio dolente, & beſtemmiando la ſua ſventura non ſe ne tornò a caſa per tutto queſto
        Rinuccio, crestfallen and cursing his evil fortune, nevertheless went not home
    4. (by extension, intransitive) To curse, swear.
    5. (figuratively, transitive) To calumniate, revile.
      • c. 1820, Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone di pensieri[2] (in Italian), collected in Pensieri di varia filosofia e di bella letteratura [Thoughts of Varied Philosophy and Fine Literature], Florence: Le Monnier, published 1898, page 104:
        mentre bestemmiano l’arte e predicano la natura, non s’accorgono che la minor arte è minor natura
        they revile art and praise nature, not realizing that less art equals less nature


Related terms[edit]