n. pl. a·nath·e·mas
1. A formal ecclesiastical ban, curse, or excommunication.
2. A vehement denunciation; a curse: "the sound of a witch's anathemas in some unknown tongue" (Nathaniel Hawthorne).
3. One that is cursed or damned.
4. One that is greatly reviled, loathed, or shunned: "Essentialism—a belief in natural, immutable sex differences—is anathema to postmodernists, for whom sexuality itself, along with gender, is a 'social construct'" (Wendy Kaminer).
[Late Latin, doomed offering, accursed thing, from Greek, from anatithenai, anathe-, to dedicate : ana-, ana- + tithenai, to put; see dhē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.