There are a lot of words meaning "disobedience to authority" but I'm wondering if there's any word for "disobedience to God". I mean a technical term or something.

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    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:35
  • Several of the answers provided might work, depending on how you intend to use the word. Providing an example sentence would be helpful.
    – barbecue
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 17:33

8 Answers 8


potentially :

sin and MW definition


1a: an offense against religious or moral law

1b: an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible

2a: transgression of the law of God


to commit a sin

It is not used to exclusively describe disobedience to God, but has those connotations:

It's a sin to waste food.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.

Ordinarily the sinful cleric prayed and fasted at his own discretion, and nothing is said of his confessing his sins.

Speaking as a AmE I tend to connect this to the Christian god, but that may be due to overexposure to Christianity, rather than actual usage rules.

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    This is probably the closest so far, but I think it's not really what the OP is looking for. My sense of "sin" has always been (1) that it's contrary to some moral principle too, (2) that it's sin by virtue of how it harms one's relationship to one's deity, not just because it's against the deity's law, and (3) that it only makes sense in the context of a religions framework that assumes the sort of relationships between humans and a deity (or deities) that Christianity does, and that holding such a relationship is desirable, which may not translate to other contexts. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 16:42
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    @R.. Judaism and Islam both have the concept of sin as well. That pretty much covers capital-G God. The (assumed) moral principle derives from the deity in the first place. By definition disobeying your deity harms your relationship with them.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 17:15
  • Yes, I believe so; I just didn't want to speak directly about religions I have less personal knowledge about. I'm not sure the context the OP wants an answer in, but I'm trying to think of it from a standpoint of how you might use the desired word in real or fictional religions where (3) doesn't apply. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 17:33
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    @OrangeDog et al. Jews use the word sin, but it's a translation of different Hebrew words, some of which do not have the same meaning as Merriam-Webster gives. Pesha (פשע) could be thought of as "an action committed in deliberate defiance of God," which may look like Christian sin. But we also translate chet (חטא) as sin, and that word describes an unintentional sin, a "missing of the mark." Using the word sin will likely invoke a Christian or Christian-influenced concept. Which may be fine, may be what the questioner is after, but katatahito is right to hedge.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 20:25
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    @Juhasz For whatever it's worth, Christianity uses the second definition of sin that you provide, as well.
    – reirab
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 0:21

If you want to describe "disobedience" to the point of "rejecting God's authority", you should definitely consider "apostasy".

Merriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apostasy

apostasy noun

apos·​ta·​sy | \ ə-ˈpäs-tə-sē \

plural apostasies

Definition of apostasy

1 : an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith

2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty : DEFECTION

  • Apostasy requires to have followed the religion at least once, and generally indicates a complete rejection. Disobedience means not following the tenets of the faith for a single action, so is much weaker. Also, one can disobey such rules without ever having followed the religion in question (you cannot be an apostate if you never were a follower).
    – Chieron
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:00
  • Granted, @Chieron...but I don't see how those conditions aren't also implicit in the original concept of "disobedience" the questioner was asking about. You can't be an apostate if you never were -- or were at least expected to be -- a follower, but you can't be "disobedient" without the implicit assumption that you're at least expected to "obey". Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 22:06
  • Yes, one cannot be disobedient without that expectation. But the expectation can be established by stating the rule (nicely or not). Rejecting it then can be seen as disobedience. Apostasy requires a higher investment to begin with, so it is another concept. However, every apostate is disobedient. Just not the other way around.
    – Chieron
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 23:28

I'd like to add two options not yet mentioned, firstly 'impiety:'

A lack of respect, especially for God or religion.


And secondly 'irreverence:'

The quality of not showing the expected respect for official, important, or holy things.



If you disobey God, you are being sacrilegious:

: committing or characterized by sacrilege : having or showing a lack of proper respect for a sacred person, place, or object
// sacrilegious acts
// It is difficult for religiously committed persons to acknowledge that their sacred texts are prone to sacrilegious uses.
— Mary C. Boys

Note that it goes on to mention uses of the word in non-religious contexts (but no doubt coming from that use metaphorically):

—often used in an exaggerated way in contexts unrelated to religion
// It would be sacrilegious to cut down such beautiful trees.
// Chilling your red wines may seem sacrilegious to some, and downright odd to others.
— Tess Rose Lampert

However, context would make its context clear.

Also, for sacrilege (if you prefer a noun rather than an adjective):

: gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing


How about heresy?

According to Merriam-Webster:

1 a : adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma (see dogma sense 2)

They were accused of heresy.

b : denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church

c : an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma

I like the Cambridge definition a bit better:

a belief opposed to the official belief of a church and that is considered wrong, or the condition of having such beliefs

To be fair, I should say that both dictionaries have definitions with non-religious contexts, as well. According to etymology online, its first popular usage was in the New Testament, and was not used as a secular term until the 14th Century, so it has a religious pedigree.

It is, obviously, a Christian-centric term, and it assumes that having an opinion contrary to Church dogma is equivalent to disobedience to God, but this is the best word I can suggest.

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    > Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things. The term is usually used to refer to violations of important religious teachings, but is used also of views strongly opposed to any generally accepted ideas. It is used in particular in reference to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 15:07
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    Unlike sin, which is "not used to exclusively describe disobedience to God", heresy, whether it's ideologic or of an action 'exclusively describes disobedience'. - "The term heresy, from Greek αἵρεσις, originally meant 'choice' or 'thing chosen', but it came to mean the 'party or school of a man's choice' and also referred to that process whereby a young person would examine various philosophies to determine how to live." - 'Choosing' to not believe in established dogma is disobedient ("refusing to obey rules or someone in authority"). aka, heresy.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 15:26
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    My sense of "heresy" is that it refers to making doctrinal claims contrary to the established religious authority's interpretation of doctrine - it's most commonly applied to splinter sects of a religion, and neither those "guilty" of it nor impartial observers see themselves as "disobedient to god" but rather disobedient to an earthly religious authority. Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 22:52
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    I like Mazura's reasoning here and I believe that heresy is going to be the closest anyone is going to get to a word meaning disobedience against God, with Sin meaning disobedience against good. I see a sin as being an inherently evil act. I see heresy as being a choice inherently against against God. Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 13:01


  1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
  2. an act of cursing or reviling God.

(Random House via TFD).

Although this is changing over time to be more generalised to "sacred things" rather than God.

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    This is clearly different from disobedience which the question asked for. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 16:35
  • Phem- may refer to talk, from Greek phema, or in my humble opinion, to zeal, i.e. greed, via Latin fama "hunger". I like to conflate the two so I am partial.
    – vectory
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 22:38

How about defy or defiance?

Denounce is another that comes to mind, but this implies rejection (apostasy) more than it does disobedience - but that can differ depending on one's relationship with scripture - to some 'followers' these terms may effectively mean the same thing.

One of the suggestions made above, heresy - from the Greek for 'choice' - is particularly apt here. Whereby the heretic exercises their free-will by deliberately choosing to defy god.

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    This answer could be improved if you provide sourced definitions with your suggestions
    – katatahito
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 0:06
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    I sort of like the neologism deifiance (sic).
    – Deepak
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 10:34

Apostasy perhaps? According to Merriam-Webster:

an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith

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