Learn English – “unorthodox” vs “heterodox”

synonymsword-usage

What's the difference between "unorthodox" and "heterodox"?

The dictionary I use roughly states that "heterodox" means "not orthodox", and "unorthodox" means well, "not orthodox".

Are they perfect synonyms?

Best Answer

The term unorthodox is used of things which do not adhere to “orthodoxy” but are not necessarily in opposition to it: “An unorthodox solution to the problem”. But I’ve only ever seen the term heterodox used for matters which oppose orthodoxy: “A heterodox sect”.

Also, as indicated by the examples I’ve given, unorthodox is usually contrasted to a figurative orthodoxy, a norm; heterodox is most commonly used in contrast to a literal orthodox theology.