3 words heard in politics that have (surprise!) religious origins

Grammar Girl offers a timely history lesson about a trio from her ‘101 Words to Sound Smart.’

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content


Newt Gingrich “has won the loyalty, for now, of many Republican primary voters, despite holding views that might appear anathema to them.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Something that is anathema is hated, repulsive, or cursed—the epitome of evil.

Anathema comes from a Greek word that described something that was cursed or devoted to evil; later, in Latin, it was associated with excommunication.

For example, in the 1200s, the Catholic Church enacted various levels of excommunication, and the most severe—cutting a person off from God and the Church, proclaiming him damned—was also called anathematization.

The curse read during the excommunication ceremony was called the anathema.


“U.S. troops are expected to be stationed in nearby Gulf states and could ultimately return under the rubric of ‘military training’ for the Iraqi army.” (Democracy Now)

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.