Meaning of excommunicate in English:



[with object]
  • Officially exclude (someone) from participation in the sacraments and services of the Christian Church.

    ‘Martin Luther was excommunicated by the Pope’
    • ‘He left for France and then Germany, where he was excommunicated by the Lutheran Church, and returned to Italy in the mistaken belief that it would be safe to do so.’
    • ‘The church excommunicated people who said that the earth revolved around the sun.’
    • ‘A Puritan New England congregation even excommunicated a man who neglected the sexual aspect of his relationship with his wife!’
    • ‘The pope excommunicated John and put England under a Church law that stated that no christening or marriage would be legal until the time the pope said that they would be.’
    • ‘The Vatican has excommunicated no world leader since 1962 when Pope John XXIII excommunicated Cuban leader Fidel Castro.’
    • ‘The Pope excommunicated king and cabinet, and these repeated ecclesiastical censures muzzled any patriotic stirrings among the clergy.’
    • ‘Since 1570 when the Pope excommunicated Elizabeth I, Catholics in the country had faced an increase in persecution and were left with little option but to conceal their faith.’
    • ‘In 1570 the Pope excommunicated Henry's daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, for what was by then called her ‘Protestantism’.’
    • ‘Elizabeth was excommunicated by Pope Pius V in 1570.’
    • ‘Even worse for John was the fact that the pope excommunicated him in 1209.’
    • ‘A king of England could not remove a pope from his position but popes claimed that they could remove a king by excommunicating him - this meant that the king's soul was condemned to Hell and people then had the right to disobey the king.’
    • ‘Eventually he was excommunicated for arguing with the Pope and for emphasising that his fellow Franciscans had made vows of poverty.’
    • ‘Eighty-one percent of Mexican Catholics opposed excommunicating a woman who has had an abortion (the current Catholic doctrine).’
    • ‘In 1457, after years of broken promises to return the cloth to the canons of Lirey and later to compensate them for its loss, Margaret was excommunicated.’
    • ‘The issue was resolved only in 1188, and in the intervening decade William was excommunicated and his kingdom placed under an interdict, while numerous appeals were made to Rome.’
    • ‘He supported the king against Thomas Becket, who excommunicated him in 1166 and again in 1169 as ‘a promoter of royal tyranny’.’
    • ‘What really got my attention, though, is that he was excommunicated not once, but twice, for refusing to submit to Papal March 1638, after a heresy trial, the clergy excommunicated her.’
    • ‘She was excommunicated by Pius V, who forbade her Catholic subjects to obey her and acted as a standing invitation to European Catholic powers to depose her.’
    • ‘If Robin Hood had tried pulling a bait and switch scam like that, I think Friar Tuck would have excommunicated him.’
    • ‘In September 1871, Bishop Shiel returned from Rome and excommunicated her for alleged insubordination.’
    rebuff, spurn, repudiate, cut off, cast off, cast aside, discard, jettison, abandon, desert, turn one's back on, have nothing to do with, have nothing more to do with, wash one's hands of, cast out, shut out, exclude, shun, cold-shoulder, give someone the cold shoulder
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  • Excommunicated.

    ‘an excommunicate bishop’
    • ‘Any that fought against him would be automatically excommunicate.’
    • ‘In 1310 the excommunicate Bruce secured the support of the Scottish clergy.’
    • ‘The suspension of Roger from office and the restoration of the excommunicate status of Gilbert Foliot and Jocelin of Salisbury would derail that plan.’
    • ‘One reason I'm grateful for bishops is that, if it were left up to laypeople, there would be nobody in the whole length and breadth of the Catholic communion who was not excommunicate.’
    under a curse, damned, doomed, ill-fated, ill-starred, star-crossed
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  • An excommunicated person.

    ‘the arrest of excommunicates’
    • ‘The Constitutions of Clarendon expressly forbade any oath about future conduct being required from an excommunicate.’


Late Middle English from ecclesiastical Latin excommunicat- ‘excluded from communication with the faithful’, from the verb excommunicare, from ex- ‘out’ + Latin communis ‘common to all’, on the pattern of Latin communicare (see communicate).