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apostasy

Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-pah-tê-see Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Renunciation of a belief system or part of a belief system: religious faith, political party, or other cause.

Notes: Someone who abjures from his or her principles may be called an apostate because their behavior is apostatic. Don't forget to insert the silent and semantically empty suffix -al before the adverbal suffix -ly: apostatically.

In Play: The original meaning referred to a rejection of religious belief: "In the Islamic State the punishment for apostasy from Islam is death." However, the meaning of today's Good Word has spread since its introduction into English: "When Susan switched her allegiance from the Denver Broncos to the Oakland Raiders, it was treated as apostasy by her family, all ardent Bronco fans."

Word History: Middle English borrowed Old French's apostasie "defection, desertion", which French legitimately inherited from Late Latin apostasia "defection". Latin borrowed and adapted its word from Greek apostasis "standing off, revolt". The Greek word was based on the root aposta- "to revolt", containing apo "(away) from) + sta, the root of histanai "to stand, take a stand". Greek remade this word out of PIE sta- "to stand", the same root that came to English as stand. But it was a popular root which English also converted stallion, the horse known for standing on its hind feet, stall, the place where you put stallions and other beasts, and stead, as in homestead and farmstead, where homes and farms stand. German converted it to Stadt "city", Stalag "camp", stehen "stand", and several other words. (It could be considered an act of apostasy if we forgot to thank Sue Gold of Westtown School for suggesting yet another excellent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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