Share this entry

Share this page

agnostic

Line breaks: ag|nos¦tic
Pronunciation: /aɡˈnɒstɪk
 
/

Definition of agnostic in English:

noun

A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.
Example sentences
  • Although not all Skeptics are agnostics, as an agnostic himself Dr Groves sees no evidence for accepting or rejecting the idea of any belief.
  • Sagan himself routinely described himself as an agnostic, and believed that the question of God's existence is inherently outside science.
  • As it is, my thinking has been influenced by Catholics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Neo-pagans, Baha'i, agnostics and atheists.
Synonyms

adjective

Back to top  
1Relating to agnostics or agnosticism.
Example sentences
  • So that wrestling is characteristic of my religious or agnostic poetry, but not necessarily everything else I do.
  • It has brought greater understanding and even some agreement among people of diverse backgrounds and concerns, ranging from agnostic seekers to people of traditional faith.
  • I'm writing, in a sense, from a kind of agnostic outsider's academic perspective rather than from an inside perspective.
Synonyms
sceptical, doubting, questioning, unsure, cynical, unbelieving, disbelieving, non-believing, faithless, irreligious;
1.1(In a non-religious context) having a doubtful or non-committal attitude towards something: until now I’ve been fairly agnostic about electoral reform
More example sentences
  • He is said to be largely agnostic about football.
  • Alone, free from the fearful burden of the faithful, I felt myself slip back into my natural agnostic relationship with the world.
  • Like de Valera, I am largely agnostic on the issue.
1.2 [usually in combination] Computing Denoting or relating to hardware or software that is compatible with many types of platform or operating system: many common file formats (JPEG, MP3, etc.) are platform-agnostic our industry is moving towards a device-agnostic model
More example sentences
  • There are now simply so many threats to the safety of Net-users that we do need an agnostic, coordinated resource that is constantly "in the face" of the public at large.
  • We are agnostic with regard to hardware platforms and software components.
  • We wanted to look at a more agnostic tool because we're not likely to use EMC hardware everywhere.

Origin

mid 19th century: from a-1 'not' + gnostic.

More
  • This word was actually invented by a specific person and then successfully entered the language. It was coined by the Victorian biologist Thomas Huxley ( 1825–95) to describe his own beliefs: he did not believe in God but did not think one could say for sure that God did not exist. Before Huxley devised agnostic there was no word for such a religious position. He is said to have first used it in 1869 at a party held in Clapham, London, prior to the formation of the Metaphysical Society. Huxley formed the word from the Greek a- ‘not’ and gnostos ‘known’.

Derivatives

agnosticism

1
Pronunciation: /-sɪz(ə)m/
noun
Example sentences
  • She has explored various religions and ways of thought throughout her life, from Christianity to agnosticism and Taoism to animism and shamanism to Gnosticism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • This would imply not only teaching the main religions, but also placing more emphasis on other thought systems that are not religious - like atheism and agnosticism.
  • The chapter ends with relatively short accounts of Christianity and Islam, and a concluding section on agnosticism, atheism and secularism.

Words that rhyme with agnostic

acrostic, diagnostic, gnostic, prognostic

Definition of agnostic in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day tenebrous
Pronunciation: ˈtenəbrəs
adjective
dark; shadowy or obscure