[ hee-thuhn ]
See synonyms for heathen on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural hea·thens, hea·then.
  1. (in historical contexts) a member of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a pagan.

  2. Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.

    • a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.

    • an irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized person.

  1. (in historical contexts) of or relating to heathens; pagan.

  2. Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.

    • relating to a religion, person, or culture that is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.

    • irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized.

Origin of heathen

First recorded before 900; Middle English hethen, Old English hǣthen, akin to German Heide, heidnisch (adjective), Old Norse heithingi (noun), heithinn (adjective), Gothic haithno (noun); perhaps akin to heath

synonym study For heathen

See pagan.

Other words from heathen

  • hea·then·dom, noun
  • hea·then·hood, noun
  • hea·then·ness, noun
  • hea·then·ship, noun
  • half-hea·then, adjective, noun
  • non·hea·then, noun, plural non·hea·thens, non·hea·then, adjective
  • un·hea·then, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use heathen in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for heathen


/ (ˈhiːðən) /

nounplural -thens or -then
  1. a person who does not acknowledge the God of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam; pagan

  2. an uncivilized or barbaric person

  1. the heathen (functioning as plural) heathens collectively

  1. irreligious; pagan

  2. unenlightened; uncivilized; barbaric

  1. of or relating to heathen peoples or their religious, moral, and other customs, practices, and beliefs

Origin of heathen

Old English hǣthen; related to Old Norse heithinn, Old Frisian hēthin, Old High German heidan

Derived forms of heathen

  • heathenism or heathenry, noun
  • heathenness, noun

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