Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
May 26th, 2015
Episode 207 of 828 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 26, 2015 is: sacrilegious \sak-ruh-LIJ-us\ adjective 1 : committing or characterized by a technical and not necessarily intrinsically outrageous violation (such as improper reception of a sacrament) of what is sacred because consecrated to God 2 : grossly irreverent toward a hallowed person, place, or thing Examples: My great-grandfather was a die-hard New Dealer who considered any criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt to be sacrilegious. "It had drawn conservative and religious protests over taxpayer financing of art that the work's opponents considered sacrilegious." Victoria Burnett, New York Times, February 25, 2015 Did you know? It may seem that sacrilegious should be spelled as sacreligious, since the word sometimes describes an irreverent treatment of religious objects or places. However, sacrilegious comes to us from sacrilege, which is ultimately derived from a combination of the Latin words sacer ("sacred") and legere ("to gather" or "to steal"). Its antecedent in Latin, sacrilegus, meant "one who steals sacred things." There is no direct relation to religious (which is derived from the Latin word religiosus, itself from religio, meaning "supernatural constraint or religious practice"). The apparent resemblance between sacrilegious and religious is just a coincidence.