a member of a group of Protestants that arose in the 16th century within the Church of England, demanding the simplification of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline: during part of the 17th century the Puritans became a powerful political party.
(lowercase) a person who is strict in moral or religious matters, often excessively so.
of or pertaining to the Puritans.
(lowercase) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a moral puritan; puritanical.

1540–50; < Late Latin pūrit(ās) purity + -an

puritanlike, adjective
puritanly, adverb
antipuritan, noun, adjective
anti-Puritan, noun, adjective
unpuritan, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
puritan (ˈpjʊərɪtən)
1.  a person who adheres to strict moral or religious principles, esp one opposed to luxury and sensual enjoyment
2.  characteristic of a puritan
[C16: from Late Latin pūritāspurity]

Puritan ((in the late 16th and 17th centuries) ˈpjʊərɪtən)
1.  any of the more extreme English Protestants, most of whom were Calvinists, who wished to purify the Church of England of most of its ceremony and other aspects that they deemed to be Catholic
2.  of, characteristic of, or relating to the Puritans

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1560s, "opponent of Anglican hierarchy," later applied opprobriously to "person in Church of England who seeks further reformation" (1570s), probably from purity (q.v.). After c.1590s, applied to anyone deemed overly strict in matters of religion and morals.
"The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." [Thomas Babington Macaulay, "History of England," 1849]
Puritanism (1570s) was famously defined by H.L. Mencken as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy" (1920).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

Puritans definition

A group of radical English Protestants that arose in the late sixteenth century and became a major force in England during the seventeenth century. Puritans wanted to “purify” the Church of England by eliminating traces of its origins in the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, they urged a strict moral code and placed a high value on hard work (see work ethic). After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, they controlled the new government, the Commonwealth. Oliver Cromwell, who became leader of the Commonwealth, is the best-known Puritan.

Note: Many Puritans, persecuted in their homeland, came to America in the 1620s and 1630s, settling colonies that eventually became Massachusetts. (See Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony.)
Note: The words puritan and puritanical have come to suggest a zeal for keeping people from enjoying themselves.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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