Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Sacrosanct


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is sacrosanct. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Sacrosanct is a formal word that describes things too important and respected to be changed or criticized. It can also mean “most sacred or holy.”

// While the family’s new matriarch aimed to maintain the familiar traditions of the holidays, she did not consider the details of their celebration to be sacrosanct.


“It might not have reached the needlessly high bar of Sony’s marketing push … but Evil Dead checked all the boxes for a successful remake. The critical reception, however, was decidedly mixed, perhaps because Raimi’s trilogy was regarded as sacrosanct by horror obsessives.” — Miles Surrey, The Ringer, 5 Apr. 2023

Did You Know?

Contrary to the beliefs of some, language is not sacrosanct; rather, it is subject to constant modification based on the needs, experiences, and even whims of those who use it. Take the word sacrosanct itself, which likely comes from the Latin phrase sacro sanctus meaning “made holy by a sacred rite.” There’s a definite semantic softening from that to the “too important and respected to be changed or criticized” meaning of sacrosanct. But holy moly, has sanctus led to a whole bunch of other English words with truly pious flavor, from saint and sanctimony to sanctify and sanctuarySacrum (“a sacred rite”), whence came the sacro in sacro sanctus, is no slouch either, living on in English anatomy as the name for our pelvic vertebrae—a shortening of os sacrum, which literally means “holy bone.”

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