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heathen

[hee-th uh n] /ˈhi ðən/
noun, plural heathens, heathen.
1.
(in historical contexts) an individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor Muslim; a pagan.
2.
Informal. an irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized person.
adjective
3.
of or pertaining to heathens; pagan.
4.
Informal. irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English hethen, Old English hǣthen, akin to German Heide, heidnisch (adj.), Old Norse heithingi (noun), heithinn (adj.), Gothic haithno (noun); perhaps akin to heath
Related forms
heathendom, noun
heathenhood, noun
heathenness, noun
heathenship, noun
half-heathen, adjective, noun
nonheathen, noun, plural nonheathens, nonheathen, adjective
unheathen, adjective
Synonym Study
See pagan.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for heathen
  • And the heathen dwells unpunished.
  • It quite belied his boyish heathen heart.
  • They were no better than heathens.
  • Indeed there was scarcely any article of faith which met with so much opposition as this from the heathen philosophers.
British Dictionary definitions for heathen

heathen

/ˈhiːðən/
noun (pl) -thens, -then
1.
a person who does not acknowledge the God of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam; pagan
2.
an uncivilized or barbaric person
3.
(functioning as pl) the heathen, heathens collectively
adjective
4.
irreligious; pagan
5.
unenlightened; uncivilized; barbaric
6.
of or relating to heathen peoples or their religious, moral, and other customs, practices, and beliefs
Derived Forms
heathenism, heathenry, noun
heathenness, noun
Word Origin
Old English hǣthen; related to Old Norse heithinn, Old Frisian hēthin, Old High German heidan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for heathen
heathen
O.E. hæðen "not Christian or Jewish," merged with O.N. heiðinn. Historically assumed to be from Goth. haiþno "gentile, heathen woman," used by Ulfilas in the first translation of the Bible into a Gmc. language (cf. Mark 7:26, for "Greek"); if so it could be a derivative of Goth. haiþi "dwelling on the heath," but this sense is not recorded. It may have been chosen on model of L. paganus (see pagan), or for resemblance to Gk. ethne (see gentile), or may in fact be a borrowing of that word, perhaps via Armenian hethanos. Like other words for exclusively Christian ideas (e.g. church) it would have come first into Gothic, then spread to other Gmc. languages.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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heathen in the Bible

(Heb. plural goyum). At first the word _goyim_ denoted generally all the nations of the world (Gen. 18:18; comp. Gal. 3:8). The Jews afterwards became a people distinguished in a marked manner from the other _goyim_. They were a separate people (Lev. 20:23; 26:14-45; Deut. 28), and the other nations, the Amorites, Hittites, etc., were the _goyim_, the heathen, with whom the Jews were forbidden to be associated in any way (Josh. 23:7; 1 Kings 11:2). The practice of idolatry was the characteristic of these nations, and hence the word came to designate idolaters (Ps. 106:47; Jer. 46:28; Lam. 1:3; Isa. 36:18), the wicked (Ps. 9:5, 15, 17). The corresponding Greek word in the New Testament, _ethne_, has similar shades of meaning. In Acts 22:21, Gal. 3:14, it denotes the people of the earth generally; and in Matt. 6:7, an idolater. In modern usage the word denotes all nations that are strangers to revealed religion.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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13
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