Su`per*sti"tion (?), n. [F. superstition, L. superstitio, originally, a standing still over or by a thing; hence, amazement, wonder, dread, especially of the divine or supernatural, fr. superstare to stand over; super over + stare to stand. See Super-, and Stand.]


An excessive reverence for, or fear of, that which is unknown or mysterious.


An ignorant or irrational worship of the Supreme Deity; excessive exactness or rigor in religious opinions or practice; extreme and unnecessary scruples in the observance of religious rites not commanded, or of points of minor importance; also, a rite or practice proceeding from excess of sculptures in religion.

And the truth With superstitions and traditions taint. Milton.


The worship of a false god or gods; false religion; religious veneration for objects.

[The accusers] had certain questions against him of their own superstition. Acts xxv. 19.


Belief in the direct agency of superior powers in certain extraordinary or singular events, or in magic, omens, prognostics, or the like.


Excessive nicety; scrupulous exactness.

Syn. -- Fanaticism. -- Superstition, Fanaticism. Superstition springs from religious feeling misdirected or unenlightened. Fanaticism arises from this same feeling in a state of high-wrought and self-confident excitement. The former leads in some cases to excessive rigor in religious opinions or practice; in others, to unfounded belief in extraordinary events or in charms, omens, and prognostics, hence producing weak fears, or excessive scrupulosity as to outward observances. The latter gives rise to an utter disregard of reason under the false assumption of enjoying a guidance directly inspired. Fanaticism has a secondary sense as applied to politics, etc., which corresponds to the primary.


© Webster 1913.