\ \ [OE] Etymologically, a heathen is ‘someone who lives on the heath’ – that is, someone who lives in a wild upcountry area, and is uncivilized and savage (the word was derived in prehistoric Germanic times from *khaithizheath’, and is also represented in German heide, Dutch heiden, and Swedish and Danish heden).
\ \ Its specific use for ‘person who is not a Christian’ seems to have been directly inspired by Latin pāgānus (source of English pagan), which likewise originally meant ‘countrydweller’. (Etymologically, savages too were to begin with dwellers in ‘wild woodland’ areas, while civilized or urbane people lived in cities or towns.) The now archaic hoydenhigh-spirited girl’ [16] was borrowed from Dutch heidenheathen’.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Heathen — Hea then (h[=e] [th] n; 277), n.; pl. {Heathens} ( [th] nz) or collectively {Heathen}. [OE. hethen, AS. h[=ae][eth]en, prop. an adj. fr. h[=ae][eth] heath, and orig., therefore, one who lives in the country or on the heaths and in the woods (cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Heathen — Hea then (h[=e] [th] n), a. 1. Gentile; pagan; as, a heathen author. The heathen philosopher. All in gold, like heathen gods. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. Barbarous; unenlightened; heathenish. [1913 Webster] 3. Irreligious; scoffing. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Heathen — Album par David Bowie Sortie 11 juin 2002 Enregistrement Studios Allaire, Shokan Studios Looking Glass, New York Durée 52:08 Genre Art rock …   Wikipédia en Français

  • heathen — O.E. hæðen not Christian or Jewish, also as a noun, heathen man (especially of the Danes), merged with O.N. heiðinn (adj.) heathen, pagan. Perhaps lit. pertaining to one inhabiting uncultivated land, from HEATH (Cf. heath) + EN (Cf. en) (2). But… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Heathen — Heathen  англ. язычник, варвар Heathen  американская группа, играющая в стиле трэш метал Heathen  альбом Дэвида Боуи 2002 года …   Википедия

  • Heathen — Allgemei …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • heathen — [hē′thən] n. pl. heathens or heathen [ME hethen < OE hæthen < hæth, HEATH; like Goth haithnō, gentile (woman) < haithi, heath (hence lit., “heath dweller”) a loan transl. used by ULFILAS for LL(Ec) paganus (see PAGAN), taken in its L… …   English World dictionary

  • heathen — [adj] not believing in Christian god agnostic, atheistic, barbarian, godless, idolatrous, infidel, irreligious, nonbeliever, pagan, profane, skeptic; concept 545 Ant. godly, religious …   New thesaurus

  • heathen — ► NOUN derogatory ▪ a person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially Christianity, Judaism, or Islam) as regarded by those who do. ► ADJECTIVE ▪ relating to heathens. DERIVATIVES heathendom noun heathenish adjective heathenism… …   English terms dictionary

  • heathen — [[t]hi͟ːðən[/t]] heathens 1) ADJ: usu ADJ n Heathen means having no religion, or belonging to a religion that is not Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. [OLD FASHIONED] He preached the Gospel to the heathen locals from this spot. ...a heathen temple …   English dictionary

  • heathen — heathendom, n. heathenhood, n. heathenness, n. heathenship, n. /hee dheuhn/, n., pl. heathens, heathen, adj. n. 1. an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor… …   Universalium

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