[pyoo r-i-tn]


a member of a group of Protestants that arose in the 16th century within the Church of England, demanding the simplification of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline: during part of the 17th century the Puritans became a powerful political party.
(lowercase) a person who is strict in moral or religious matters, often excessively so.


of or relating to the Puritans.
(lowercase) of, relating to, or characteristic of a moral puritan; puritanical.

Origin of Puritan

1540–50; < Late Latin pūrit(ās) purity + -an
Related formspu·ri·tan·like, adjectivepu·ri·tan·ly, adverban·ti·pu·ri·tan, noun, adjectivean·ti-Pu·ri·tan, noun, adjectiveun·pu·ri·tan, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for puritan

proper, strict

Examples from the Web for puritan

Contemporary Examples of puritan

Historical Examples of puritan

  • Angelo, the would-be Puritan ruler, was a "false seemer," Malvolio was a "chough."

  • All else on his canvas is subordinated to the grim image of the colossal Puritan.

  • Of all that is noble and true in the Puritan character we are sincere admirers.

  • All creeds may be welded together, but the Puritan and the scoffer are like oil and water.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • He continued to play, but the Puritan sensitiveness had taken hold of him.


    James Anthony Froude

British Dictionary definitions for puritan



a person who adheres to strict moral or religious principles, esp one opposed to luxury and sensual enjoyment


characteristic of a puritan
Derived Formspuritanism, noun

Word Origin for puritan

C16: from Late Latin pūritās purity



any of the more extreme English Protestants, most of whom were Calvinists, who wished to purify the Church of England of most of its ceremony and other aspects that they deemed to be Catholic


of, characteristic of, or relating to the Puritans
Derived FormsPuritanism, 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

Word Origin and History for puritan



1560s, "opponent of Anglican hierarchy," later applied opprobriously to "person in Church of England who seeks further reformation" (1570s), probably from purity. Largely historical from 19c. in literal sense. After c.1590s, applied to anyone deemed overly strict in matters of religion and morals.

What [William] Perkins, and the whole Puritan movement after him, sought was to replace the personal pride of birth and status with the professional's or craftsman's pride of doing one's best in one's particular calling. The good Christian society needs the best of kings, magistrates, and citizens. Perkins most emphasized the work ethic from Genesis: "In the swaete of thy browe shalt thou eate thy breade." [E. Digby Baltzell, "Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia," 1979]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper