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a person or thing detested or loathed:
That subject is anathema to him.
a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
any imprecation of divine punishment.
a curse; execration.
Contemporary Examples

Government regulations were not anathema to the market but requisite.
Obamacare Is as American as the Founding Fathers Sally Kohn March 31, 2014

Fire aboard an airplane is anathema to airplane designers and airlines.
Planes in Flames: Why Does It Keep Happening? Clive Irving July 14, 2013

The program was designed to tamp down unrest—an anathema for officials like Nayef.
Saudi Crown Prince of Darkness Tara McKelvey October 27, 2011

That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.
Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake! Stephen King April 29, 2012

In his opinion, the “path to citizenship” for immigrants, which is anathema to many conservatives, is absolutely essential.
Cardinal O’Malley: Pope Francis Knows Immigrants Are the Future of the Church Christopher Dickey June 3, 2014

Historical Examples

Jackson was told that a pipe was anathema maranatha, which is Greek for no bon.
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 153, Sept. 12, 1917 Various

He devotes also to anathema all the nations of the land of Canaan.
The Phantom World Augustin Calmet

As a means of rendering the anathema more effective, the people are also urged to be prompt and honest in the payment of tithes.
The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals Edmund P. Evans

Schumann was not understood; Chopin was misunderstood; and Liszt was anathema.
Old Fogy James Huneker

I wish I could give you an idea, madame, of the tone and expression of Sallenauve as he uttered this anathema.
The Deputy of Arcis Honore de Balzac

noun (pl) -mas
a detested person or thing: he is anathema to me
a formal ecclesiastical curse of excommunication or a formal denunciation of a doctrine
the person or thing so cursed
a strong curse; imprecation

1520s, “an accursed thing,” from Latin anathema “an excommunicated person; the curse of excommunication,” from Greek anathema “a thing accursed,” originally “a thing devoted,” literally “a thing set up (to the gods),” from ana- “up” (see ana-) + tithenai “to place,” from PIE root *dhe- “to put, to do” (see factitious).

Originally simply a votive offering, by the time it reached Latin the meaning had progressed through “thing devoted to evil,” to “thing accursed or damned.” Later applied to persons and the Divine Curse. Meaning “formal act or formula of consigning to damnation” is from 1610s.

Anathema maranatha, taken as an intensified form, is a misreading of the Syriac maran etha “the Lord hath come,” which follows anathema in I Cor. xvi:22, but is not connected with it (see Maranatha).

anything laid up or suspended; hence anything laid up in a temple or set apart as sacred. In this sense the form of the word is _anath(ee)ma_, once in plural used in the Greek New Testament, in Luke 21:5, where it is rendered “gifts.” In the LXX. the form _anathema_ is generally used as the rendering of the Hebrew word _herem_, derived from a verb which means (1) to consecrate or devote; and (2) to exterminate. Any object so devoted to the Lord could not be redeemed (Num. 18:14; Lev. 27:28, 29); and hence the idea of exterminating connected with the word. The Hebrew verb (haram) is frequently used of the extermination of idolatrous nations. It had a wide range of application. The _anathema_ or _herem_ was a person or thing irrevocably devoted to God (Lev. 27:21, 28); and “none devoted shall be ransomed. He shall surely be put to death” (27:29). The word therefore carried the idea of devoted to destruction (Num. 21:2, 3; Josh. 6:17); and hence generally it meant a thing accursed. In Deut. 7:26 an idol is called a _herem_ = _anathema_, a thing accursed. In the New Testament this word always implies execration. In some cases an individual denounces an anathema on himself unless certain conditions are fulfilled (Acts 23:12, 14, 21). “To call Jesus accursed” [anathema] (1 Cor. 12:3) is to pronounce him execrated or accursed. If any one preached another gospel, the apostle says, “let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8, 9); i.e., let his conduct in so doing be accounted accursed. In Rom. 9:3, the expression “accursed” (anathema) from Christ, i.e., excluded from fellowship or alliance with Christ, has occasioned much difficulty. The apostle here does not speak of his wish as a possible thing. It is simply a vehement expression of feeling, showing how strong was his desire for the salvation of his people. The anathema in 1 Cor. 16:22 denotes simply that they who love not the Lord are rightly objects of loathing and execration to all holy beings; they are guilty of a crime that merits the severest condemnation; they are exposed to the just sentence of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”


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    to pronounce an against; denounce; curse. to pronounce ; curse. Historical Examples Be sure that Ravenna, anathematize as he may, will never be permitted to enter that convent. The Shadow of the Czar John R. Carling Will they burn me at Carfax, or will they anathematize me with bell, book, and candle? The Works of […]

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    to pronounce an against; denounce; curse. to pronounce ; curse. Historical Examples Mr. Camperdown anathematised the carelessness of everybody connected with Messrs. Garnett’s establishment. The Eustace Diamonds Anthony Trollope The engineer was regarded as John’s seducer, and was anathematised. The Son of a Servant August Strindberg Men are Whigs or not-Whigs, and the not-Whig is […]

  • Anathematization

    to pronounce an against; denounce; curse. to pronounce ; curse. Historical Examples Venerable parent promptly resorts to anathematization, and turns him out. Our Mutual Friend Charles Dickens One bishop earnestly recommends the Jewish anathematization, Let neither party ever be spoken to again. The Myth in Marriage Alice Hubbard verb to pronounce an anathema (upon a […]

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