heathenhood

heathen

[hee-thuhn] Disparaging and Offensive.
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:
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

heathendom, noun
heathenhood, noun
heathenness, noun
heathenship, noun
half-heathen, adjective, noun
nonheathen, noun, plural nonheathens, nonheathen, adjective
unheathen, adjective


Heathen and pagan are primarily historical terms that were applied pejoratively, especially by people who were Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, to peoples who were not members of one of those three monotheistic religious groups. Heathen referred especially to the peoples and cultures of primitive or ancient tribes thought to harbor unenlightened, barbaric idol worshipers: heathen rites; heathen idols.
Pagan, although sometimes applied similarly to those tribes, was more often used to refer specifically to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who worshiped the multiple gods and goddesses said to dwell on Mount Olympus, such as Zeus and Athena (called Jupiter and Minerva by the Romans). The term was applied to their beliefs and culture as well: a pagan ritual; a pagan civilization.
Contemporary paganism, having evolved and expanded in Europe and North America since the 20th century, includes adherents of diverse groups that hold various beliefs, which may focus, for example, on the divinity of nature or of the planet Earth or which may be pantheistic or polytheistic. In modern English, heathen remains an offensive term, used to accuse someone of being unenlightened or irreligious; pagan, however, is increasingly a neutral description of certain existing and emerging religious movements.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
heathen (ˈhiːðən)
 
n , 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 plural) the heathen heathens collectively
 
adj
4.  irreligious; pagan
5.  unenlightened; uncivilized; barbaric
6.  of or relating to heathen peoples or their religious, moral, and other customs, practices, and beliefs
 
[Old English hǣthen; related to Old Norse heithinn, Old Frisian hēthin, Old High German heidan]
 
'heathenism
 
n
 
'heathenry
 
n
 
'heathenness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

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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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Heathen definition


(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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