Main definitions of pagan in English

: pagan1Pagan2



  • 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’
    • ‘The author suggests that those who were not Jews, Christians, or Muslims, were all pagans.’
    • ‘While social factors may explain why increasing numbers of aristocrats adopted Christianity, they surely do not explain all conversions of pagans in the fourth century.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Today, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and pagans from all races and sects do live side-by-side in varying degrees of conflict and co-operation.’
    • ‘For the pagan and the Temple mystic, however, the world is not God's place; instead, God is the place of the world.’
    • ‘My happiness, strengths, passive aggressive tendencies and insecurities are likely to be the same regardless of whether or not I currently identify as a pagan, atheist or Gnostic.’
    • ‘Knocking on wood is meant to bring good luck by enlisting the support of spirits who according to the ancient pagans Druids, lived in trees.’
    • ‘Casebolt offered 20 labels, including pagan, atheist and agnostic in his Midwestern survey.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All of us - pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews - must stand together when it comes to protecting our most sacred freedom.’
    • ‘We have a good deal of information about the polemical and often bitter arguments Christians, Jews, and pagans had with one another in the early centuries.’
    • ‘In fact Aurelian was a pagan who set up a religion dedicated to Sol the sun god.’
    • ‘The pagan insisted that divinity was in trees and in all of nature.’
    • ‘I lean more toward the type of magic commonly associated with Wiccans and pagans, I don't have any particular religion just yet, but I found what works best for me.’
    • ‘She feels fulfilled by her mixture of pagan and Christian beliefs and sees no need for spells.’
    • ‘But for pagans, magicians were the consultants of their day.’
    • ‘I have noted that biblical religion opposed the supernaturalism of the ancient pagan.’
    heathen, infidel, idolater, idolatress, atheist, non-theist, irreligious person, agnostic, sceptic, heretic, apostate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1derogatory, dated A non-Christian.
      • ‘Missionary zeal tends to offend the religious sensibilities of people by denouncing their native religions as false and pagan.’
    2. 1.2 A member of a modern religious movement which seeks to incorporate beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions, especially nature worship.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Interacting with our fellow Pagans, we meet proud practitioners of every alternative lifestyle imaginable.’
      • ‘What can we learn from this and apply to our lives as modern Pagans?’
      • ‘As modern Pagans this is part of our situation, for we are not sheep.’
      • ‘As an adult, I learned that there were modern Pagans.’
      • ‘Although many modern pagans do not consider themselves to be witches both spiritual outlooks remain largely concerned with a naturalistic approach to spirituality.’
      • ‘Archaeologist Robert J Wallis and anthropologist Jenny Blain have been talking to modern British pagans about their beliefs and their interests in archaeological sites.’
      • ‘According to one major study, Wiccans - one of several subgroups of pagans - made up the fastest-growing religion in the continental United States in the 1990s.’


  • Relating to pagans or their beliefs.

    ‘a pagan god’
    • ‘Following a preliminary inspection of the site, Mr Downe said he believed the ruins were part of a prehistoric roundabout that may have also been used for pagan ceremonies.’
    • ‘Tobernalt is an ancient, pagan assembly place, approximately three miles east of Sligo town, near the shores of Lough Gill.’
    • ‘Yet, it was at the hill of Tara that St. Patrick lit the first Paschal fire in 433, which local high king Laoighire regarded as defiance against his pagan gods.’
    • ‘The author's treatment of the plagues is enlightened by his knowledge of ancient Egypt; he draws out their symbolic significance as a direct challenge to the pagan beliefs and gods of Egypt.’
    • ‘Before Ukraine adopted Christianity in 988, the inhabitants believed in pagan gods who ruled over the sun, stars, and moon.’
    • ‘Within the Christian celebration, however, may be traced the faint outline of the older and perhaps darker pagan festival which it replaced.’
    • ‘After all, there were Anglo-Saxon pagan gods to sing about as well.’
    • ‘As with many of our religious holidays, the traditions are a mixture of pagan, Jewish, Christian and other beliefs.’
    • ‘I had a romantic notion that the roots of the Irish jig lay in far distant celtic, pagan roots, but it may be that it was just an import from 17th Century Continental Europe.’
    • ‘It seems to me that regardless of whether you are an agnostic or an atheist, mainstream or pagan, religious or not there is still a dignity in death that we can all learn from.’
    • ‘I was just researching Lady Godiva to see if I can find out whether there are any pagan religious roots to the story, because I feel like there must surely be.’
    • ‘Persecution and absorption into popular Christianity served to cut short many pagan religious practices.’
    • ‘The date had long been held sacred as Imbolg, the Celtic festival of Spring, but after Christianity arrived, Saint Brigid was honoured instead of the pagan gods.’
    • ‘David Miles recalls finding Christian jewels in a cemetery of West Saxons newly converted from pagan beliefs.’
    • ‘They sent up a fragrance of sweet oil and illuminated the soft wall-paintings of pagan heroes and gods.’
    • ‘Excavation of the graves revealed an astonishing world of pagan beliefs.’
    • ‘To the south, in England, heathenism still reigned in the various kingdoms ruled by the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons, and pagan gods were worshipped.’
    • ‘Most ancient pagan beliefs place more emphasis upon the non-uniformities of Nature than the regularities.’
    • ‘Some tattoos are of course more obvious in their meaning, but a good number of others draw on mythology, pagan runes, organizational logos and acronyms.’
    • ‘Bealtaine, apart from being the Irish word for the month of May, was a festival in pagan Ireland celebrating Spring and heralding the arrival of Summer.’


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).




Main definitions of pagan in English

: pagan1Pagan2


proper noun

  • A town in Burma, situated on the River 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.