[ ey-thee-iz-uhm ]
/ ˈeɪ θiˌɪz əm /
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the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
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Origin of atheism

1580–90; <Greek áthe(os) godless + -ism


an·ti·a·the·ism, adjective, nounpro·a·the·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does atheism mean?

Atheism is the belief that there is no supreme being or deity. In other words, atheism is the denial of the existence of God or of any gods.

A person who holds such a belief can be called an atheist. The word atheist can also be used as an adjective to describe such beliefs or things involving such beliefs. The adjective atheistic can be used in the same way.

The word atheism means something different from agnosticism, which is the belief that it is impossible to know whether or not a supreme being exists. When asked if God or gods exist, an atheist would answer “No,” while an agnostic would answer “It is impossible to know.”

Example: Atheism isn’t the belief that God is bad—it’s the belief that God doesn’t exist.

Where does atheism come from?

The first records of the word atheism come from the 1580s. It ultimately comes from the Greek áthe(os), meaning “godless.” In atheism, the beginning part a- means “without” and the main root is based on a word meaning “god” (the words theology and theist are based on the same root). The noun suffix -ism indicates doctrine or belief system.

Historically, being known as an atheist has been dangerous—many atheists have even been tortured or killed, such as in societies that require adherence to a specific religion. Even today, people who embrace atheism face discrimination. Many atheists support policies that ensure that religious freedom applies even to those who do not follow any faith.

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What are some other forms related to atheism?

What are some words that share a root or word element with atheism

What are some words that often get used in discussing atheism?

What are some words atheism may be commonly confused with?

How is atheism used in real life?

The word atheism is the most common way of referring to the belief that a god or gods do not exist.

Try using atheism!

True or False?

The word atheism refers to a fear or distrust of religious people.

How to use atheism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for atheism

/ (ˈeɪθɪˌɪzəm) /

rejection of belief in God or gods

Word Origin for atheism

C16: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos godless, from a- 1 + theos god
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

Cultural definitions for atheism

[ (ay-thee-iz-uhm) ]

Denial that there is a God. (Compare agnosticism.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.