Definition of anathema in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈnaTHəmə/


1Something or someone that one vehemently dislikes: racial hatred was anathema to her
More example sentences
  • To them, I will only say that regardless of whether it is big or small, supporting evil is anathema to any man who seeks the good, the right and the true.
  • Contraception and abortion were, of course, anathema to Mother Teresa.
  • The idea of counter-cyclical policy was anathema to the Victorians.
2A formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine.
Example sentences
  • Although anathemas followed against any who disagreed with the faith so formulated, there was no prohibition against altering the creed at a future council.
  • It's no wonder then, that Paul calls down God's curse, God's anathema, His ban on those behind their potential defection from Christ.
  • The anathemas were eventually cancelled on 7 December 1965, by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, as part of a larger effort to draw the two Churches together, after centuries of separation.
2.1 literary A strong curse: the sergeant clutched the ruined communicator, muttering anathemas
More example sentences
  • Each community can assert its own convictions forcefully, but neither community should resort to anathemas or silences, to exclusion or withdrawal.
  • At times, as the curses and the anathemas rained upon him, he held his hands out in front of him, like a school nerd begging the bullies not to hit him again.
  • That's when anathemas begin to fly and dialogue becomes impossible.


Early 16th century: from ecclesiastical Latin, 'excommunicated person, excommunication', from Greek anathema 'thing dedicated', (later) 'thing devoted to evil, accursed thing', from anatithenai 'to set up'.

  • An ecclesiastical Latin word for an ‘excommunicated person, excommunication’, anathema comes from the Greek word meaning ‘thing dedicated’, later coming to mean ‘thing devoted to evil, accursed thing’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: a·nath·e·ma

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