Definitions

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

  • n. Desecration, profanation, misuse, or theft of something sacred.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The violation, desecration, or profanation of sacred things.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The felonious taking of any goods out of any church or chapel.

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

  • n. 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.

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

  • 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)

  • 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

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

    The Sacred Domain

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

    Archive 2006-09-01

  • Actually I agree that the issue in the case of sacrilege is power, but it's the power differential between the religion and the individual rather than between the dominant culture-as-community and the marginalised culture-as-community that's the deciding factor for me.

    The Power and the Piss

  • But later today we'll get a chance to step out on what some call sacrilege, others call stunning.

    CNN Transcript Mar 20, 2007

  • While some would call it sacrilege to deface such a well-known icon, there is a long history of ads on the left-field wall.

    USATODAY.com - Will Canseco last on unemployment line?

  • Even if it is indisputable that Bobby Moore was a football god who in one of the greatest games ever played fought Pele to a standstill, no-one should sneer the word sacrilege if it should happen this evening in Seville that his total of 108 caps for England is matched by David Beckham.

    Belfasttelegraph.co.uk - Frontpage RSS Feed

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