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Borrowed from Old French heresie (modern hérésie), from Latin haeresis, from Ancient Greek αἵρεσις (haíresis, choice, system of principles), from αἱρέομαι (hairéomai, to take for oneself, to choose), the middle voice of αἱρέω (hairéō, to take), from Proto-Indo-European *ster-; see also Welsh herw (theft, raid), Ancient Greek στερέω (steréō, to deprive of).[1]


  • IPA(key): /ˈhɛɹəsi/
  • (file)


heresy (countable and uncountable, plural heresies)

  1. (religion) A doctrine held by a member of a religion at variance with established religious beliefs, especially dissension from Roman Catholic dogma.
    • 1968, History of Western Civilization, edited by Heyes, Baldwin & Cole, p.47. Macmillan. Library of Congress 67–13596
      Heresy meant deliberate departure from the accepted doctrines of the church. It was intellectual and spiritual dissent and concerned the beliefs of Christianity, not the morals of its adherents.
  2. A controversial or unorthodox opinion held by a member of a group, as in politics, philosophy or science.

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  1. ^ J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999), 543.