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 ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.