If we turn something (including a concept or tactic) into a weapon, we have weaponized it. If we legally classify something as a crime, we have criminalized it.

What is an equivalent single-word, verb term for turning something into or classifying something as a sin?

Best possible answers will capture the religious overtones adjacent to the word 'sin,' although are not restricted to western religions. Good but not best answers will at least capture a sense of newly classifying something as immoral without the direct overtones. Merely capturing a sense of modern illegality (i.e., criminalize, above) is not enough.

Its use in a sentence might be, "It was not enough for the preacher to criminalize loud music; he felt the need to ____ it, to turn it into a mortal sin."

  • 3
    As an aside, "criminalize" is really only used in the sense of "enact a law against", so isn't something a preacher would do unless he was elected to office. Consider "disapprove of", "oppose", "decry", or "denounce" depending on how strong you want the preacher's words to be. Aug 12, 2019 at 14:26
  • If the important part is the categorization (ie mortal vs venal sin), then I would suggest a simple classification word like 'pigeonhole' or 'label' or 'name' or 'categorize'. But it's not clear that that is what you want (and all the current answers don't go that route).
    – Mitch
    Aug 12, 2019 at 17:37
  • "Denounce" is another option. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/denounce
    – Robb Smith
    Aug 12, 2019 at 22:51

7 Answers 7



to criticize something or someone strongly, usually for moral reasons.

This word can be used for moral (not merely legal) denunciation of an individual, a group or their actions.


In Jewish and Christian tradition, the love of money is condemned as a sin primarily based on texts such as Ecclesiastes 5:10 and 1 Timothy 6:10. The Jewish and Christian condemnation relates to avarice and greed rather than money itself.

  • ooh, "denounce" is also a good one.
    – trent
    Aug 12, 2019 at 14:33

I would suggest


Although it seems to mostly get applied to people, quite a few of the examples are of other nouns:

Finally, we must not demonize any experience or initiative, whether negative or positive.

I've certainly heard it in conversation to describe something undesirable (to the point of being demonic)

In this particular context of religion, I think it works really well.

  • 1
    It seems like this is mostly used metaphorically, not literally to make it a sin.
    – Barmar
    Aug 12, 2019 at 18:44


to pronounce an anathema upon

Source: Merriam-Webster

Let's examine M-W's definition of anathema:

1a : one that is cursed by ecclesiastical authority
b : someone or something intensely disliked or loathed —usually used as a predicate nominative //… this notion was anathema to most of his countrymen.

— Stephen Jay Gould

2a : a ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication
b : the denunciation of something as accursed
c : a vigorous denunciation : curse

Particularly due to the connotation of an ecclesiastical authority making an official pronouncement in 1a, I think this best captures the OP's request.

  • The best, best,best.:)
    – Lambie
    Aug 12, 2019 at 22:53

I would use the verb moralize:

1 : to explain or interpret morally
// an essay moralizing about the evils of alcohol

With the example sentence:

It was not enough for the preacher to criminalize loud music; he felt the need to moralize it, to turn it into a mortal sin.


I would use "stigmatise":

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:

stigmatise v 1: to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful; "He denounced the government action"; "She was stigmatized by society because she had a child out of wedlock" [syn: {stigmatize}, {stigmatise}, {brand}, {denounce}, {mark}] 2: mark with a stigma or stigmata; "They wanted to stigmatize the adulteress" [syn: {stigmatize}, {stigmatise}]

There is a subtle difference to "condemn" in that "stigmatise" carries the connotation of vilifying (oops, another option) something that is not a priori considered a bad thing. So I can "condemn Paul's greed" but it would sound weird to "stigmatise Paul's greed". Basically, I don't see that "condemn" meets your requirement of "captur[ing] a sense of newly classifying something as immoral".



  1. a social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

"many taboos have developed around physical exposure"

Source: Lexico

Your sentence would be:

It was not enough for the preacher to criminalize loud music; he felt the need to make it taboo, to turn it into a mortal sin


The church would say that society can make something into a crime or something else into a weapon but the church has already decided what is a sin and has even categorized which are mortal sins and which venal sins. I don't believe a word exists.

  • Problem is, there are many churches and religions. And you may even want to make up a new religion, for example in a work of fiction. Aug 13, 2019 at 21:56
  • ...................................he felt the need to PECCANTIFY it, to turn it into a mortal sin..
    – Aled Cymro
    Aug 14, 2019 at 1:45
  • This is from peccant derived from Latin word for sin
    – Aled Cymro
    Aug 14, 2019 at 1:46

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