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Meaning of HEATHEN

Pronunciation:  'heedhun

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WordNet Dictionary
  1. [n]  a person who does not acknowledge your God
  2. [adj]  not acknowledging the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam
 Synonyms: gentile, heathenish, infidel, irreligious, pagan, pagan
 See Also: idol worshiper, idolater, idoliser, idolizer, nonreligious person, paynim



Webster's 1913 Dictionary
  1. \Hea"then\ (?; 277), n.; pl. {Heathens}or collectively
    {Heathen}. [OE. hethen, AS. h??en, prop. an adj. fr. h??
    heath, and orig., therefore, one who lives in the country or
    on the heaths and in the woods (cf. pagan, fr. pagus
    village); akin to OS. h??in, adj., D. heiden a heathen, G.
    heide, OHG. heidan, Icel. hei?inn, adj., Sw. heden, Goth.
    haipn?, n. fem. See {Heath}, and cf. {Hoiden}.]
    1. An individual of the pagan or unbelieving nations, or
       those which worship idols and do not acknowledge the true
       God; a pagan; an idolater.
    2. An irreligious person.
             If it is no more than a moral discourse, he may
             preach it and they may hear it, and yet both
             continue unconverted heathens.        --V. Knox.
    {The heathen}, as the term is used in the Scriptures, all
       people except the Jews; now used of all people except
       Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans.
             Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for
             thine inheritance.                    --Ps. ii. 8.
    Syn: Pagan; gentile. See {Pagan}.
  2. \Hea"then\, a.
    1. Gentile; pagan; as, a heathen author. ``The heathen
       philosopher.'' ``All in gold, like heathen gods.'' --Shak.
    2. Barbarous; unenlightened; heathenish.
    3. Irreligious; scoffing.
Easton Bible Dictionary

(Heb. plural goyum). At first the word _goyim_ denoted generally all the nations of the world (Gen. 18:18; comp. Gal. 3:8). The Jews afterwards became a people distinguished in a marked manner from the other _goyim_. They were a separate people (Lev. 20:23; 26:14-45; Deut. 28), and the other nations, the Amorites, Hittites, etc., were the _goyim_, the heathen, with whom the Jews were forbidden to be associated in any way (Josh. 23:7; 1 Kings 11:2). The practice of idolatry was the characteristic of these nations, and hence the word came to designate idolaters (Ps. 106:47; Jer. 46:28; Lam. 1:3; Isa. 36:18), the wicked (Ps. 9:5, 15, 17).

The corresponding Greek word in the New Testament, _ethne_, has similar shades of meaning. In Acts 22:21, Gal. 3:14, it denotes the people of the earth generally; and in Matt. 6:7, an idolater. In modern usage the word denotes all nations that are strangers to revealed religion.

Thesaurus Terms
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