Etymology
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Words related to saint

sacred (adj.)

late 14c., "hallowed, consecrated, or made holy by association with divinity or divine things or by religious ceremony or sanction," past-participle adjective from a now-obsolete verb sacren "to make holy" (c. 1200), from Old French sacrer "consecrate, anoint, dedicate" (12c.) or directly from Latin sacrare "to make sacred, consecrate; hold sacred; immortalize; set apart, dedicate," from sacer (genitive sacri) "sacred, dedicated, holy, accursed." OED writes that, in sacred, "the original ppl. notion (as pronunciation indicates) disappeared from the use of the word, which is now nearly synonymous with L. sacer."

This is from Old Latin saceres, from PIE root *sak- "to sanctify." Buck groups it with Oscan sakrim, Umbrian sacra and calls it "a distinctive Italic group, without any clear outside connections." De Vaan has it from a PIE root *shnk- "to make sacred, sanctify," and finds cognates in Hittite šaklai "custom, rites," zankila "to fine, punish." Related: Sacredness. The Latin nasalized form is sancire "make sacred, confirm, ratify, ordain" (as in saint, sanction). An Old English word for "sacred" was godcund.

The meaning "of or pertaining to religion or divine things" (opposed to secular or profane) is by c. 1600. The transferred sense of "entitled to respect or reverence" is from 1550s. Sacred cow as an object of Hindu veneration is by 1793; its figurative sense of "one who or that which must not be criticized" is in use by 1910 in U.S. journalism, reflecting Western views of Hinduism. Sacred Heart "the heart of Jesus as an object of religious veneration" is by 1823, short for Sacred Heart of Jesus or Mary.

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sainthood (n.)

"state or condition of being a saint," 1540s, from saint (n.) + -hood. Saintship is attested from c. 1600; saintdom from 1842 (Tennyson).

saintly (adj.)

"like or characteristic of a saint, befitting a holy person," 1620s, from saint (n.) + -ly (1). Middleton used saintish; Dryden has saintlike. Related: Saintlily; saintliness.

sanctification (n.)

"act or fact of being made holy; state of being made holy," c. 1400, sanctificacioun, from Old French sanctificacion and directly from Church Latin sanctificationem, noun of action from past-participle stem of Late Latin sanctificare "to make holy," from sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)). Old French also had it in the semi-popularized saintificacion, thus the occasional Middle English form seintificacionne.

sanctify (v.)

late 14c., seintefien "to consecrate, set apart for sacred use;" c. 1400, "to render holy or legitimate by religious sanction;" from Old French saintefier "sanctify" (12c., Modern French sanctifier), from Late Latin sanctificare "to make holy," from sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

The form was altered in English c. 1400 to conform to Latin. From 1520s (Tyndale) as "to free from sin." The transferred sense of "to render worthy of respect" is from c. 1600. Related: Sanctified; sanctifying.

sanctimony (n.)

1530s, "piety, devoutness, sanctity," a sense now obsolete, from French sanctimonie, from Latin sanctimonia "sacredness, holiness, virtuousness," from sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)). The surviving sense of "external appearance of devoutness, hypocritical or affected piety" is by 1610s.

sanction (n.)

1560s, "a law or decree," from Latin sanctionem (nominative sanctio) "act of decreeing or ordaining," also "a decree, an ordinance, a law," noun of action from past-participle stem of sancire "to decree, confirm, ratify, make sacred" (see saint (n.)).

Originally especially of ecclesiastical decrees. The extended sense of "express authoritative permission" is by 1720, hence the looser sense of "the conferring of authority upon (an opinion, practice or sentiment); confirmation of support derived from public approval" (1738). Moral sanction, in Bentham's philosophy, is "the knowledge of how one's neighbors will take a given act, as a motive for doing or not doing it" [Century Dictionary].

As "a penalty enacted according to a provision in a law to enforce obedience to it" from 1630s; in later 17c. also "a provision of a law which enforces obedience through rewards or penalties." Hence the modern sense of "economic or quasi-military action by a state against another," usually to enforce terms of a law or treaty that has been violated (1919).

sanctitude (n.)

"holiness, sacredness," mid-15c. in Scottish English, from Latin sanctitudinem (nominative sanctitudo) "sacredness," from sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)).

sanctity (n.)

late 14c., saunctite, "holiness, godliness, blessedness," from Old French sanctete, saintete, sainctete (Modern French sainteté), from Latin sanctitatem (nominative sanctitas) "holiness, sacredness," from sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)). The meaning "sacred or hallowed character" (of marriage, the home, life, etc.) is by c. 1600, hence, in reference to those things, "inviolability."

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.