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What Does Sacrilegious Mean?

  • Sacrilegious means disrespectful of something sacred.
  • There are two pronunciations of sacrilegious. The older pronunciation, sak-ruh-LEE-juss, is closer to the spelling of the word, but uncommon today. The newer pronunciation, sak-ruh-LIJ-uss, is much more common, but makes it harder to remember how to spell the word.
  • Remember, even though sacrilegious sounds like it contains the word religious, the i and the e are in different places.

Something described as sacrilegious is characterized by sacrilege—disrespect for sacred things. Sacrilegious is an adjective, and if you need an adverb with the same meaning, you’d use sacrilegiously.

Definition of Sacrilege

Sacrilegious is the adjective form of sacrilege. Because of this, we can’t discuss the meaning of sacrilegious without first discussing the noun sacrilege and figuring out what it means.

Sacrilegious Definition GIF

There are plenty of things people hold sacred. Religions have sacred objects, places, people, dates, practices, and rituals. People also have things that are sacred to them, be they religious in nature or not. The one thing all sacred things have in common is that they are respected by the people who hold them sacred, and that respect can be manifested in many ways. But so can a lack of respect for sacred things, which is what we call sacrilege. And when we want to describe something that’s disrespectful of something sacred, we can say it’s sacrilegious:

The idea to build on top of ancient tribal graveyards is sacrilegious.

In some societies, you can find yourself in serious danger if you write sacrilegious books.

Synonyms for Sacrilege and Sacrilegious

Sometimes, you might want to use a different word to say sacrilegious. If it’s because you’re not sure how to pronounce it, here you go—[sak-ruh-LIJ-uss]. But if it’s for any other reason, you can say “blasphemy” instead of sacrilege if someone is showing verbal disrespect. The adjective is “blasphemous.” If the sacrilege has a physical manifestation, it’s called “desecration.” But irreverence, profanation, and defilement are also synonymous with sacrilege.

Sacrilegious in a Sentence

Here are some examples of how sacrilegious can be used in a sentence:

Plans to build a new £160m road through an area closely associated with poet Seamus Heaney have been described as “sacrilegious”.The Irish News

Scholars have warned that taking a selfie during pilgrimage is akin to boasting and thus sacrilegious, while Saudis complain that the proliferation of pilgrims taking selfies while circling the Kaaba is causing dangerous congestion.Bloomberg

And not only are they sacrilegious, but they also risk pitting Trump against what is, according to Gallup, the most well-regarded institution in American society: the military.The Washington Post

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