- Date: 14th century
- 1 : to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation <a policy widely condemned as racist>
- 2 a : to pronounce guilty : convict
- b : sentence, doom <condemn a prisoner to die>
- 3 : to adjudge unfit for use or consumption <condemn an old apartment building>
- 4 : to declare convertible to public use under the right of eminent domain
Its Proto-Indo-European language origin is usually said to be a root dap-, which appears in Latin and Greek words meaning "feast" and "expense". (The connection is that feasts tend to be expensive.) In Latin this root provided a theorized early Latin noun *dapnom, which became Classical Latin damnum = "damage" or "expense". But there is a Vedic Sanskrit root dabh or dambh = "harm".
The word damnum did not have exclusively religious overtones. From it in English came "condemn"; "damnified" (an obsolete adjective meaning "damaged"); "damage" (via French from Latin damnaticum). It began to be used for being found guilty in a court of law; but, for example, an early French treaty called the Strasbourg Oaths includes the Latin phrase in damno sit = "would cause harm". From the judicial meaning came the religious meaning.