- (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.
- Informal. an irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized person.
- of or relating to heathens; pagan.
- Informal. irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized.
Origin of heathen
Examples from the Web for heathen
They also argued that the Bible authorized slavery, and that the slaves were actually being rescued from heathen Africa.Americans’ Burning Obsession With Hell
September 26, 2014
The culprits are not Hasidic Jews running amok around the world or Tea-baggers bent on replanting Christianity among the heathen.Only Muslims Can Stop Muslim Terror
Leslie H. Gelb
January 7, 2010
It is not fitting for Christians to hold a festival in honor of a heathen god.Buried Cities, Part 2
My opinion then, is, that he wants to be transported, if he is to turn up such a heathen as that!The Channings
Mrs. Henry Wood
The truth is that you were a lady at the Court of Clovis, and I was a heathen captive.The Gentleman From Indiana
I asked him what were heathen lands, and he said they were countries where heathen lived.
Steadily drearier grew the ocean, flatter all the heathen lands.
- a person who does not acknowledge the God of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam; pagan
- an uncivilized or barbaric person
- the heathen (functioning as plural) heathens collectively
- irreligious; pagan
- unenlightened; uncivilized; barbaric
- of or relating to heathen peoples or their religious, moral, and other customs, practices, and beliefs
Word Origin and History for heathen
Old English hæðen "not Christian or Jewish," also as a noun, "heathen man" (especially of the Danes), merged with Old Norse heiðinn (adj.) "heathen, pagan."
Perhaps literally "pertaining to one inhabiting uncultivated land," from heath + -en (2). But historically assumed to be from Gothic haiþno "gentile, heathen woman," used by Ulfilas in the first translation of the Bible into a Germanic language (cf. Mark vii:26, for "Greek"); if so it could be a derivative of Gothic haiþi "dwelling on the heath," but this sense is not recorded. It may have been chosen on model of Latin paganus, with its root sense of "rural" (see pagan), or for resemblance to Greek ethne (see gentile), or it may be a literal borrowing of that Greek word, perhaps via Armenian hethanos [Sophus Bugge]. Like other basic words for exclusively Christian ideas (e.g. church) it likely would have come first into Gothic and then spread to other Germanic languages.