- (in historical contexts) a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; a heathen.
- an irreligious or hedonistic person.
- an uncivilized or unenlightened person.
- relating to the worship or worshipers of any religion that is neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim.
- irreligious or hedonistic.
- (of a person) uncivilized or unenlightened.
Origin of pagan
synonym study for pagan
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 an offensive term, used to accuse someone of being unenlightened or irreligious; pagan, however, is increasingly a neutral description of certain existing and emerging religious movements.
OTHER WORDS FROM pagan
Words nearby 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.
Did you know … ?
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.
Many pagans (like me) don't believe either in god or satan or any gods, or believe they exist at all. We believe in humanity and our place in nature, as an integral part of the Universe, not apart from it.
— Amos Keppler (@HoodedMan) October 21, 2020
In modern Pagan religions, Samhain (Halloween) is a time to honor the ancestors (in spirit). But we should remember also to honor our elders *before* they become ancestors. A good place to start would be doing something nice for @Selena_Fox as she turns 70 tomorrow.
— M. Belanger (@sethanikeem) October 19, 2019
Bunnies and eggs are symbols of sex, fertility and new life adopted from ancient pagan traditions #HappyEaster
— Ryan Malaty (@ryanmalaty) April 20, 2014
How to use pagan in a sentence
In a straightforward way, it shows the pagan and the Christian worlds in confrontation, the way they were in the time of the legend.The Green Knight is glorious and a little baffling. Let’s untangle it.|Alissa Wilkinson|July 30, 2021|Vox
So she did this pagan ceremony, blessing the cameras and the sound equipment.Revisiting ‘The Visitors’: An oral history of Ragnar Kjartansson’s multimedia masterpiece|Sebastian Smee, Gabriel Florit, Joanne Lee|July 23, 2021|Washington Post
They still have pagan holidays, a lot like Scandinavian countries.
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.How Soviet Russia Banished Their Version of Santa Claus, Then Brought Him Back to Spread Communist Cheer|Madeline Roache|December 24, 2020|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.Watching the flames burn Notre Dame, the spiritual heart of France|Elaine Sciolino|November 6, 2020|Washington Post
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.Inside 'Sons of Anarchy's' Final Season: Creator Kurt Sutter on the Most Brutal Season Yet|Annaliza Savage|September 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
On Tuesday, it was Hector Pagan, ex-husband of Mob Wives star Renee Graziano.'Mob Wives’ Courtroom Drama Exposes Rat, But Protects Jury|Michael Daly|March 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I am an easiful old pagan, and I am not angry with you at all—you funny, little champion of the Most High.God and my Neighbour|Robert Blatchford
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.Beacon Lights of History, Volume I|John Lord
There was one device of oath-taking, half pagan and half barbaric, which but very slowly relaxed its hold on Christian Europe.A Cursory History of Swearing|Julian Sharman