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[ey-thee-ist] /ˈeɪ θi ɪst/
a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Origin of atheist
1565-75; < Greek áthe(os) godless + -ist
Related forms
antiatheist, noun, adjective
proatheist, noun, adjective
Can be confused
agnostic, atheist (see synonym study at the current entry)
atheist, theist, deist.
Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic refer to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief. An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings. An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. Infidel means an unbeliever, especially a nonbeliever in Islam or Christianity. A skeptic doubts and is critical of all accepted doctrines and creeds. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for atheist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The one knowledge constitutes the pride of the philosopher, the other the despair of the atheist.

    Pascal John Tulloch
  • Or, do you mean that I am an atheist simply, and a teacher of atheism?

    Apology Plato
  • Or he may entertain what appears to him independent evidence in favour of Atheism, and thus he may become an atheist.

    Mind and Motion and Monism George John Romanes
  • "I understand," said the atheist, glancing into Lorand's eyes.

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • Nature in an agony is no atheist; the soul that knows not where to fly, flies to God.

    Christianity and Greek Philosophy Benjamin Franklin Cocker
British Dictionary definitions for atheist


a person who does not believe in God or gods
of or relating to atheists or atheism
Derived Forms
atheistic, atheistical, adjective
atheistically, adverb
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 atheist

1570s, from French athéiste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see Thea).

The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell. [Armand Salacrou, "Certitudes et incertitudes," 1943]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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