Definition of heathen in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhēT͟Hən/


chiefly derogatory
1A person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do.
Example sentences
  • The brochure promises hell for heathens and salvation through Christ.
  • The unbeliever, the heathen will not be judged because they did not hear of Christ, but because they have refused the knowledge that was given to them about God and did not pursue it.
  • Until the age of 16 I attended church regularly, became a Sunday School teacher, and was so fervent, even wanted to become a Missionary in order to spread the Word to the heathens of the world.
1.1A follower of a polytheistic religion; a pagan.
Example sentences
  • I think it's got to be - I think the key for politics right now is for politicians to recognize that their God is the one true God, and that all others are heathens and/or pagans and should be scorned.
  • To her, a Pagan is a heathen, a Satanist, an evildoer.
  • Whether the spouses are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Parsis, pagans or heathens, is wholly irrelevant in the application of these provisions.
1.2 (the heathen) Heathen people collectively, especially (in biblical use) those who did not worship the God of Israel.
Example sentences
  • Edwards made a series of important theological moves beyond his Reformed predecessors that could have opened the door for a more hopeful view of the salvation of the heathen.
  • Despite his repeated charges, I do not insist that Edwards argued forcefully for the salvation of the heathen through the prisca theologia.
  • The assertion that Edwards provided for the salvation of the heathen discounts this fundamental premise of his thought.
1.3 informal An unenlightened person; a person regarded as lacking culture or moral principles.
Example sentences
  • It is the embodiment of the devil and has been sent as a sign that God is punishing us for being soulless heathens with the morals of rabid frat jackals in heat in a shed full of naked Swedish Bikini Team members on Ecstasy.
  • Actually the first justification was that these people were savage heathens.
  • Predictably, many of these images are caricatures depicting blacks as colonial subjects, savage heathens, entertainers, and promoters and providers of exotic products.
philistine, boor, oaf, ignoramus, lout, yahoo, vulgarian, plebeian
informal pleb, peasant


Relating to heathens: heathen gods
More example sentences
  • If we look at carved gods on heathen temples we see fearful, gruesome, repulsive demonic representations that millions bow down to and worship.
  • Those who sent these men to burn themselves and others are the high priests of this present-day heathen cult.
  • Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars
pagan, infidel, idolatrous, heathenish;
unbelieving, nonbelieving, atheistic, agnostic, heretical, faithless, godless, irreligious, ungodly, unholy;
barbarian, barbarous, uncivilized, uncultured, primitive, ignorant, philistine



Pronunciation: /ˈhēT͟H(ə)ndəm/
Example sentences
  • ‘All these things smack of heathendom,’ he remarks.
  • The ecclesiastical and religious history exhibition ‘From heathendom to Christianity’ is housed inside Moster Amfi.
  • The stave churches were built in the period from around 1000 up to 1349 when the Black Death attacked Norway, a period where the heathendom, although officially dead, still was strong in Norway.


Pronunciation: /ˈhēT͟H(ə)niSH/
Example sentences
  • A further description of Baker's performances was: ‘brazen-faced, heathenish dances… which, if permitted, are likely to provoke riots’ .
  • I am trying to save the children of God from the heathenish ways of the Devil.
  • Confronted with such evidence, it would have been understandable if Europeans had looked at tobacco as so inextricably entwined with heathenish practice that they would want nothing to do with the plant.


Pronunciation: /ˈhēT͟Həˌnizəm/
Example sentences
  • Karen is now an atheist, formerly a Catholic, who posts her internal dialogues with her ‘altar ego’ Sister Mary Karen, who is appalled by Karen's newfound heathenism and her sinful ways.
  • It went too far for heathenism, not far enough for Christianity.
  • Choosing between bacon and cheese - two paths towards non-Kosher heathenism - I choose bacon.


Old English hǣthen, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch heiden and German Heide; generally regarded as a specifically Christian use of a Germanic adjective meaning 'inhabiting open country', from the base of heath.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: heath·en

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