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'.
- In Christianity, Orthodox has the additinal technical sense of labelling one of the Principal Christian Denominations, those branches of Christianity which developed out of the church of the eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople. (For more, see Eastern Orthodox Church - Oriental Orthodox Church.) AWE has more detailed articles on:
- Orthodox Judaism is that branch of the faith that holds to the most traditional beliefs and practices, believing that the Torah is of divine origin. Orthodox Jews follow the Shulhan Arukh, the 'Arranged Table', the standard Code of Jewish law, following the Halakhah, the legal side of Judaism. Halakhah (or Halacha or Halaka) is derived from the root halakh, 'to go', 'to walk': it means 'the rules and regulations by which the Jew walks through life'. (Jacobs, 1999).