There are 2 main definitions of pagan in English:

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pagan1

Line breaks: pagan
Pronunciation: /ˈpeɪɡ(ə)n
 
/

noun

1A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions: a Muslim majority had to live in close proximity to large communities of Christians and pagans
More example sentences
  • It is a common belief that witches and pagans are devil worshipers, but they are not.
  • Whether the spouses are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Parsis, pagans or heathens, is wholly irrelevant in the application of these provisions.
  • There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters.
Synonyms
1.1 dated , derogatory A non-Christian.
Example sentences
  • Missionary zeal tends to offend the religious sensibilities of people by denouncing their native religions as false and pagan.
1.2A member of a modern religious movement which seeks to incorporate beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions, especially nature worship.
Example sentences
  • Wiccans consider themselves witches, pagans or neo-pagans, and say their religion is based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.
  • As an adult, I learned that there were modern Pagans.
  • What can we learn from this and apply to our lives as modern Pagans?

adjective

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Relating to pagans or their beliefs: a pagan god
More example sentences
  • They sent up a fragrance of sweet oil and illuminated the soft wall-paintings of pagan heroes and gods.
  • After all, there were Anglo-Saxon pagan gods to sing about as well.
  • Before Ukraine adopted Christianity in 988, the inhabitants believed in pagan gods who ruled over the sun, stars, and moon.
Synonyms
ungodly, irreligious, infidel, idolatrous, atheistic, non-theistic, agnostic, sceptical, faithless, impious
rare paganistic, paganish, apostatical, nullifidian, heathenish, heathenistic

Origin

late Middle English: from Latin paganus 'villager, rustic', from pagus 'country district'. Latin paganus also meant 'civilian', becoming, in Christian Latin, 'heathen' (i.e. one not enrolled in the army of Christ).

More
  • In Latin paganus originally meant ‘of the country, rustic’, and also ‘civilian, non-military’. Around the 4th century ad, it developed the sense ‘non-Christian, heathen’. One theory is that belief in the ancient gods lingered on in the rural villages after Christianity had been generally accepted in the towns and cities of the Roman Empire; another focuses on the ‘civilian’ sense, and points out that early Christians called themselves ‘soldiers of Christ’, making non-Christians into ‘civilians’. A third view compares heathens to people outside the civilized world of towns and cities, belonging to the countryside. Curiously, it was not uncommon to find Pagan as a given name, a custom that has recently been revived. The Latin root paganus came from pagus ‘country district’, which is also the source of peasant. Heathen is similar in meaning and development, coming from a word meaning ‘inhabiting open country’ which is related to heath. Both these words are Germanic and were already in use in Old English.

Derivatives

paganish

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • He takes our daughters to church every Sunday, and takes them to the Sunday school there, and they occasionally see me doing paganish things during the week (such as when I light incense on my altar or put a food offering in the bowl).
  • The Puritans banned Christmas Eve and the day as too paganish because they were celebrated until the era of the Victorian Christmas tree (c. 1850) as wild party occasions.
  • Next, I tried to be paganish, figuring that I never fit in with any other religion, so maybe this one would work.

paganism

2
noun
Example sentences
  • Some Renaissance theologians worked hard at reconciling paganism with Judaism and Christianity.
  • This first episode tells the story of how early Christianity opposed paganism and magic - branding it the devil's work.
  • The early ascetics were influenced by the Byzantine Christian desert mystics and even now it has elements of animism and paganism.

paganize

3
(also paganise) verb
Example sentences
  • ‘It's pretty strange how people Christianized pagan traditions and now are paganizing Christian traditions,’ he mused.
  • Brownlow seems right in suggesting that ‘the new Renaissance English style was too closely associated with either a Protestant or a paganizing humanism for a recusant writer to adopt it, especially a Jesuit poet.’

Words that rhyme with pagan

Copenhagen, Reagan

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There are 2 main definitions of pagan in English:

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Pagan2

Line breaks: Pagan
Pronunciation: /pəˈɡɑːn
 
/
A town in Burma, situated on the Irrawaddy south-east of Mandalay. It is the site of an ancient city, founded in about ad 849, which was the capital of a powerful Buddhist dynasty from the 11th to the end of the 13th centuries.

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