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Idolatrize vs. Idolize — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 21, 2024
Idolatrize means to worship idols or physical objects as gods, while idolize means to admire or revere someone or something greatly, often excessively.
Idolatrize vs. Idolize — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Idolatrize and Idolize


Key Differences

Idolatrize refers to the act of worshiping idols, physical objects, or images as deities. This term has a strong religious connotation and often carries a negative implication, particularly within monotheistic religions that forbid such practices. Idolize, on the other hand, means to admire or revere someone or something to an extreme degree. This term is more commonly used in a secular context and can apply to celebrities, public figures, or even personal heroes.
The concept of idolatrizing is rooted in ancient religious practices where statues or symbols were considered embodiments of gods. Such practices are often criticized in texts that advocate for monotheism, where worship is reserved for a single deity. Idolizing, meanwhile, is more about emotional or personal admiration, and although it can be intense, it lacks the formal religious structure of idolatrizing.
Idolatrizing can lead to conflicts in societies where differing religious beliefs exist, particularly between polytheistic and monotheistic traditions. Idolizing, while potentially leading to unhealthy obsession, is generally seen as a personal behavior rather than a societal issue. Both terms involve placing high value on something, but the context and implications differ significantly.

Comparison Chart


Worship idols or physical objects as gods
Admire or revere someone or something greatly


Primarily religious
Mostly secular


Often negative
Can be positive or negative

Practices Involved

Rituals, ceremonies
Emotional admiration, sometimes obsession

Use in Monotheism

Considered forbidden or sinful
Not typically relevant

Compare with Definitions


To venerate idols as part of religious practice.
Idolatrizing was common in the temple, where numerous gods were honored.


To have an excessive admiration for someone or something.
The students idolize their teacher, seeing him as a role model.


To engage in the practice of idol worship.
The villagers were accused of idolatrizing the golden calf.


To admire or revere greatly.
Many young athletes idolize professional sports stars.


To attribute divine qualities to an object.
They idolatrize the relic, believing it has miraculous powers.


To regard with extreme admiration or devotion.
She idolizes her older brother for his achievements.


To worship physical objects or idols as gods.
Some ancient cultures would idolatrize statues of their deities.


To love or adore excessively.
He idolizes his mentor, hanging on every word of advice.


To perform religious rituals around idols.
Idolatrizing included offerings and prayers to the carved images.


To hold someone in high esteem.
Fans idolize the singer, following her every move.


(transitive) To make an idol of; to idolize.


To regard with great or uncritical admiration or devotion.


(intransitive) To worship idols; to pay idolatrous worship.


To make an idol of, or to worship as an idol.


To worship idols; to pay idolatrous worship.


To adore excessively; to revere immoderately.


To make in idol of; to idolize.


To make an idol of; to pay idolatrous worship to; as, to idolize the sacred bull in Egypt.


To love to excess; to love or reverence to adoration; as, to idolize gold, children, a hero.


To practice idolatry.
To idolize after the manner of Egypt.


Love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess; venerate as an idol;
Many teenagers idolized the Beatles

Common Curiosities

Is idolatrizing considered negative?

In many religious contexts, idolatrizing is considered negative or forbidden.

Is idolizing always bad?

Idolizing can be positive when it inspires, but it can become negative if it leads to unhealthy obsession.

What does idolize mean?

Idolize means to admire or revere someone or something greatly.

Does idolatrize involve religious practices?

Yes, idolatrize involves rituals and ceremonies centered around worshiping idols.

What are examples of idolatrize in history?

Ancient cultures that worshiped statues and images of gods practiced idolatrizing.

Is idolatrize common in modern religions?

Idolatrize is less common in monotheistic religions but still exists in some polytheistic traditions.

Can you idolize an object?

Yes, people can idolize objects, though it usually refers to admiration rather than worship.

What does idolatrize mean?

Idolatrize means to worship idols or physical objects as gods.

What are examples of idolizing someone?

Fans idolizing a movie star or a child idolizing their parent are common examples.

Can idolize be used in religious contexts?

Idolize is generally used in secular contexts, though it can sometimes be used metaphorically in religious settings.

Does idolizing have a formal structure?

No, idolizing does not involve formal rituals; it is more about personal admiration.

Is idolatrize specific to any religion?

Idolatrize can be found in various polytheistic religions but is condemned in monotheistic ones like Christianity and Islam.

Are there cultural differences in idolizing?

Yes, the extent and manner of idolizing can vary widely between cultures.

How can idolizing affect relationships?

Idolizing can strain relationships if it leads to neglect of real connections in favor of an idealized figure.

Can idolizing lead to problems?

Yes, idolizing can lead to unrealistic expectations or unhealthy behaviors.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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