Etymology
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sacrilege (n.)

c. 1300, "the crime or sin of stealing what is consecrated to God," from Old French sacrilege (12c.), from Latin sacrilegium "temple robbery, a stealing of sacred things," from sacrilegus "temple-robber, stealer of sacred things," noun use of adjective, from phrase sacrum legere "to steal sacred things," from sacrum "sacred object" (from neuter singular of sacer "sacred;" see sacred) + legere "take, pick up" (from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather").

The second element is not from religion, and the two words might not be related etymologically. From early 14c. as "improper or impious behavior." The transferred sense of "profanation of anything held sacred" is attested from late 14c.

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sacrilegious (adj.)

mid-15c., sacrilegiose, "committing sacrilege, guilty of sacrilege," from Latin sacrilegiosum, from sacrilegium (see sacrilege). The sense of "profane, impious, involving sacrilege" is by 1620s. Earlier as a noun, "one who commits a sacrilege" (early 14c.). Related: Sacrilegiously; sacrilegiousness.

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*leg- (1)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak" on the notion of "to gather words, to pick out words."

It forms all or part of: alexia; analects; analogous; analogue; analogy; anthology; apologetic; apologue; apology; catalogue; coil; colleague; collect; college; collegial; Decalogue; delegate; dialect; dialogue; diligence; doxology; dyslexia; eclectic; eclogue; elect; election; epilogue; hapax legomenon; homologous; horology; ideologue; idiolect; intelligence; lectern; lectio difficilior; lection; lector; lecture; leech (n.2) "physician;" legacy; legal; legate; legend; legible; legion; legislator; legitimate; lesson; lexicon; ligneous; ligni-; logarithm; logic; logistic; logo-; logogriph; logopoeia; Logos; -logue; -logy; loyal; monologue; neglect; neologism; philology; privilege; prolegomenon; prologue; relegate; sacrilege; select; syllogism; tautology; trilogy.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek legein "to say, tell, speak, declare; to count," originally, in Homer, "to pick out, select, collect, enumerate;" lexis "speech, diction;" logos "word, speech, thought, account;" Latin legere "to gather, choose, pluck; read," lignum "wood, firewood," literally "that which is gathered," legare "to depute, commission, charge," lex "law" (perhaps "collection of rules"); Albanian mb-ledh "to collect, harvest;" Gothic lisan "to collect, harvest," Lithuanian lesti "to pick, eat picking;" Hittite less-zi "to pick, gather."

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desecrate (v.)

"divest of sacred character, treat with sacrilege," 1670s, from de- "do the opposite of" + stem of consecrate. Old French had dessacrer "to profane," and there is a similar formation in Italian; but Latin desecrare meant "to make holy," with de- in this case having a completive sense. Related: Desecrated; desecrating.

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asylum (n.)

early 15c., earlier asile (late 14c.), "place of refuge, sanctuary," from Latin asylum "sanctuary," from Greek asylon "refuge, fenced territory," noun use of neuter of asylos "inviolable, safe from violence," especially of persons seeking protection, from a- "without" (see a- (3)) + sylē "right of seizure," which is of unknown etymology.

Literally, "an inviolable place." Formerly a place where criminals and debtors sought shelter from justice and from which they could not be taken without sacrilege. General sense of "safe or secure place" is from 1640s; abstract sense "inviolable shelter, protection from pursuit or arrest" is from 1712. Meaning "benevolent institution to shelter some class of persons suffering social, mental, or bodily defects" is from 1773, originally of female orphans.

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sanctuary (n.)

early 14c., seintuarie, sentwary, etc., "consecrated place, building set apart for holy worship; holy or sacred object," from Anglo-French sentuarie, Old French saintuaire "sacred relic, holy thing; reliquary, sanctuary," from Late Latin sanctuarium "a sacred place, shrine" (especially the Hebrew Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem; see sanctum), also "a private room;" in Medieval Latin also "a church, cemetery; right of asylum," from Latin sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)). 

Since the time of Constantine and by medieval Church law, fugitives or debtors enjoyed immunity from arrest and ordinary operations of the law in certain churches, hence its use by mid-14. of churches or other holy places with a view to their inviolability. The transferred sense of "immunity from punishment by virtue of having taken refuge in a church or similar building" is by early 15c., also of the right to such. (Exceptions were made in England in cases of treason and sacrilege.)

The general (non-ecclesiastical) sense of "place of refuge or protection" is attested from 1560s; as "land set aside for wild plants or animals to breed and live" it is recorded by 1879 in reference to the American bison.

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