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puritan Line breaks: pur|itan
Pronunciation: /ˈpjʊərɪt(ə)n/

Definition of puritan in English:


1 (Puritan) A member of a group of English Protestants of the late 16th and 17th centuries who regarded the Reformation of the Church under Elizabeth I as incomplete and sought to simplify and regulate forms of worship.
Example sentences
  • From its inception there had been a committed Protestant minority who aspired to complete a full Protestant reformation - the Puritans.
  • Excessive frivolity has always been frowned upon by some, and Christmas was not celebrated by the Puritans or Calvinists.
  • Unlike the English Puritans, the Dutch Reformed ministers made no efforts to evangelise the native peoples of the area.
1.1A person with censorious moral beliefs, especially about self-indulgence and sex: my mother was a puritan about sex don’t be such a puritan
More example sentences
  • These are precisely the values the puritans and zealots of many faiths and ideologies would destroy.
  • A few centuries ago it may not have seemed out of place, but even modern-day American puritans have been shocked by Florida's so-called ‘Scarlet Letter’ law.
  • Teetotalers, or people who drink in moderation, on the other hand are boring, no fun, puritans, kill-joys etc.
moralist, pietist, prude, prig, moral zealot/fanatic, killjoy, Mrs Grundy, Grundy, old maid, schoolmarm, Victorian, priggish person, ascetic
informal goody-goody, Goody Two-Shoes, holy Joe, holy Willie, Miss Prim
North American informal bluenose


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1 (usually Puritan) Relating to the Puritans: a Puritan parliamentarian he was of Puritan stock
More example sentences
  • The religious experiments of Archbishop Laud reactivated Puritan militancy.
  • She sets this change within the context of a wider intellectual shift from Puritan piety to the Enlightenment's faith in progress and the inherent goodness of man.
  • The religious intensity of Puritan settlers infused every facet of life in seventeenth-century New England, including criminality.
1.1Having or displaying censorious moral beliefs, especially about self-indulgence and sex: as the puritan ethic has weakened, hedonism has replaced it a puritan conscience
More example sentences
  • Bangalore seemed to suit him better, with its catholicity of social life and its absence of puritan guardians of moral behaviour.
  • Feng Yuxiang's forces were subjected with severity to their commander's puritan morals: no drinking, gambling, swearing, or resort to prostitutes was permitted.
  • Suffused with puritan guilt, his self interest had its limits.


Late 16th century: from late Latin puritas 'purity' + -an.

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