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The word orthodox, first and foremost an adjective, means, at its simplest, 'correct', 'right' or 'generally accepted as the correct [idea, opinion, method, way]'. (It comes from the Greek ὀρθός (orthos) 'straight', 'right' and δόξα (doxa) 'opinion'.) It is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, which has the vowel of 'or'; the second vowel sound is that of 'the', and the last that of 'clock', or 'Docs': 'ORTH-er-docs', IPA: /'ɔːθə,dɒks/.

In general terms, holding to the accepted beliefs, traditions and behaviour associated with a particular way of life (a profession, religion, association, sport, political movement etc) makes one an orthodox practitioner, thinker or believer. Orthodox medicine is the recognized body of knowledge, practice and so on that is taught in western medical schools - it is often opposed to 'alternative medicine', such as homeopathy, aromatherapy and other unorthodox treatments. In war and sport, an unorthodox approach may lead to victory.

In religion, there are many meanings, apart from the everyday one of 'holding opinions regarded by the sect to which one belongs as correct'.