View synonyms for pagan


[ pey-guhn ]


  1. (in historical contexts) one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
  2. a member of a religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth; a neopagan.
  3. Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.
    1. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; a heathen.
    2. an irreligious or hedonistic person.
    3. an uncivilized or unenlightened person.


  1. (in historical contexts) of or relating to pagans.
  2. Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.
    1. relating to a religion, person, or culture that is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim; heathen.
    2. irreligious or hedonistic.
    3. (of a person) uncivilized or unenlightened.


/ ˈpeɪɡən /


  1. a member of a group professing a polytheistic religion or any religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam
  2. a person without any religion; heathen
“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


  1. of or relating to pagans or their faith or worship
  2. heathen; irreligious
“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
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Derived Forms

  • ˈpaganish, adjective
  • ˈpagandom, noun
  • ˌpaganˈistic, adjective
  • ˌpaganˈistically, adverb
  • ˈpaganism, noun
  • ˈpaganist, adjectivenoun
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Other Words From

  • pa·gan·ish adjective
  • pa·gan·ish·ly adverb
  • non·pa·gan noun adjective
  • non·pa·gan·ish adjective
  • pseu·do·pa·gan adjective
  • sem·i·pa·gan noun adjective
  • sem·i·pa·gan·ish adjective
  • un·pa·gan adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of pagan1

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English, from Medieval Latin, Late Latin pāgānus “worshiper of false gods,” originally (in military slang), “civilian” (i.e., not a soldier of Christ), Latin: “peasant,” noun use of pāgānus “rural, civilian,” derivative of pāgus “village, rural district” (akin to pangere “to make fast, settle upon, fix”) + -anus ; -an
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Word History and Origins

Origin of pagan1

C14: from Church Latin pāgānus civilian (hence, not a soldier of Christ), from Latin: countryman, villager, from pāgus village
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Synonym Study

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 a term that can be offensive, 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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Example Sentences

In a straightforward way, it shows the pagan and the Christian worlds in confrontation, the way they were in the time of the legend.

From Vox

So she did this pagan ceremony, blessing the cameras and the sound equipment.

They still have pagan holidays, a lot like Scandinavian countries.

From Ozy

The trouble for Ded Moroz and his granddaughter sidekick, who originate from pagan Slavic mythology, began with the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

From Time

A Druid shrine and then a pagan temple dedicated to Jupiter, the chief of the Roman gods, are believed to have stood on this spot.

A second uniformed cop, 29-year-old Police Officer Roberto Pagan, has arrived.

The demonic ‘anti-Santa’ enjoys an unlikely renaissance as we learn to embrace our inner pagan.

And likewise the Easter bunny, a bizarre pagan myth if ever one there was.

Yet most people outside that little circle still believe in witches and ghosts and goblins, and are very pagan-minded.

On Tuesday, it was Hector Pagan, ex-husband of Mob Wives star Renee Graziano.

I am an easiful old pagan, and I am not angry with you at all—you funny, little champion of the Most High.

Although nearly two hundred inscriptions have been discovered, not one of either pagan or Christian character has been met with.

The loftiest pagan philosophy dwindled into insignificance before the sublimity of Christian hope.

A traveller ordinarily feels as safe in a highly-civilized pagan community as in a Christian city.

There was one device of oath-taking, half pagan and half barbaric, which but very slowly relaxed its hold on Christian Europe.


Related Words

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More About Pagan

What does pagan mean?

The word pagan was once used to refer to a person who practiced a polytheistic religion—one based on belief in more than one god. 

This sense of the word was also used as an adjective to describe things related to such belief systems, as in pagan rituals. These senses are no longer in technical use (such as among religion scholars). 

Historically, pagan has also been used by followers of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to refer any person who practices a different religion (especially one different than their own). This sense of the word is considered disparaging and offensive due to implying that such people and their beliefs are primitive and perhaps even evil. A more general use of pagan based on this sense is used to refer to a person considered irreligious, uncivilized, or hedonistic. The word heathen has traditionally been used in the same ways. 

Today, pagan can be used in a neutral way to refer to a person whose religious or spiritual beliefs center around nature or the earth and various deities associated with it. Such a person may also be called or identify as a neopagan.  

Example: As a Wiccan, I consider myself a pagan in the tradition of ancient belief systems.

Where does pagan come from?

The first records of the word pagan come from around 1325. It ultimately comes from the Late Latin pāgānus, meaning “worshiper of false gods.” 

Negative, disparaging use of the word pagan grew during the Middle Ages, which was a time of many religious conflicts and persecution of other religions by Christian powers. Followers of ancient Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic religions are just some examples of groups that were persecuted for their beliefs.

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What are some other forms related to pagan?

  • nonpagan (noun, adjective)
  • pagandom (noun)

What are some synonyms for pagan?

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

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

How is pagan used in real life?

Pagan has a long history of offensive and disparaging use, in both specific and general ways. In terms of modern religion, the word pagan is used as a term of self-identification among practitioners of certain belief systems.