Definition of Puritan in US English:



  • 1A member of a group of English Protestants of the late 16th and 17th centuries who regarded the Reformation of the Church of England under Elizabeth as incomplete and sought to simplify and regulate forms of worship.

    • ‘The Puritans, who were Protestant fundamentalists, were also devout believers in the Bible.’
    • ‘Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong.’
    • ‘The difference between Puritans and Anglicans is nicely illustrated in sermons from the period.’
    • ‘James had none of Elizabeth's fearful paranoia about Catholics and Puritans.’
    • ‘In appealing to the Bible, the Puritans exercised a merciless critique of the spiritual life in Anglicanism.’
    • ‘If you read the Puritans regularly, their Bible-centeredness becomes contagious.’
    • ‘During the 1650s, English Puritans attempted to replace the irregular festival calendar with the weekly and subdued Sabbath rest.’
    • ‘The Puritans, who had first sought peace with the Native Americans, quickly fell into conflict with them.’
    • ‘These men would return and become the leaders of the English Puritans in the reign of Elizabeth.’
    • ‘He propagated ideas and emphases which departed from the biblical tradition established by the Reformers and Puritans.’
    • ‘Back in the 17th century, at the time of the Commonwealth, the Puritans tried to ban Christmas.’
    • ‘Less promising for the art of music were the activities of the Reformed Calvinists, including the Puritans who settled New England.’
    • ‘Bishops and Puritans knew each other well and in several cases were old friends.’
    • ‘That is to say, Milton at this time had notions that would have been deemed as heretical by the Calvinist theology of the ascendant Presbyterian Puritans.’
    • ‘Closer to our own century, the Puritans wrote extensively on mutuality within marriage.’
    • ‘Unlike the English Puritans, the Dutch Reformed ministers made no efforts to evangelise the native peoples of the area.’
    • ‘Both Calvin and the Puritans held to a view of Scripture that created its own difficulties.’
    • ‘Excessive frivolity has always been frowned upon by some, and Christmas was not celebrated by the Puritans or Calvinists.’
    • ‘From its inception there had been a committed Protestant minority who aspired to complete a full Protestant reformation - the Puritans.’
    • ‘It arose rather in a body that had actually persecuted the Puritans - the Church of England.’
    nonconformist, protestant, freethinker, recusant
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    1. 1.1 A person with censorious moral beliefs, especially about pleasure and sex.
      ‘my mother was a puritan about sex’
      ‘don't be such a puritan’
      • ‘Where will prosecutors and overzealous puritans draw the line?’
      • ‘Teetotalers, or people who drink in moderation, on the other hand are boring, no fun, puritans, kill-joys etc.’
      • ‘But they're not puritans, and like to let their hair down once in a while.’
      • ‘But the new puritans argue that any risk, no matter how infinitesimal, is intolerable.’
      • ‘So begone, hypocritical puritans, and let the rest of us get on with enjoying our daily dose of sex and gossip.’
      • ‘The human cloth is dyed into too many different shades to allow either puritans or libertarians to have the last word.’
      • ‘Well, I think the press - they're kind of decadent puritans.’
      • ‘But tackling Spears in public would have made the far right look like scolds or puritans.’
      • ‘The liberal puritans, by contrast, are riding high in the media and in the courts.’
      • ‘Many of us are not puritans and puritans don't go to strip clubs - why make an issue about it?’
      • ‘The folks behind this campaign, which invited the wrath of the puritans, are two young men based in Bangalore.’
      • ‘Like most puritans he despairs that we keep smoking, ‘which is curious considering that very few smokers nowadays are not aware of the health risks associated with smoking’.’
      • ‘In addition, many people do not know that there are Chinese versions of puritans with clean hands burning with passion for communist ideology.’
      • ‘These are precisely the values the puritans and zealots of many faiths and ideologies would destroy.’
      • ‘At this point He could be fairly accused of being a cabal of anti-car puritans.’
      • ‘He is the puritan who is to shut down the stages of London, who - like other puritans in the 1990s, perhaps - feels that he has the only acceptable handle on social control.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He would be ostracized by the puritans on both the right and the left - by the feminists patrolling the sexual borders of contemporary life and by the politicos peddling decency.’
      • ‘Modern social puritans see recess as a frivolous luxury, and the trend has caught on with alarming speed.’
      • ‘I agree with him that such resources have been misappropriated by puritans and extremists.’
      moralist, pietist, prude, prig, moral fanatic, moral zealot, killjoy, mrs grundy, grundy, old maid, schoolmarm, victorian, priggish person, ascetic
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  • 1Relating to the Puritans.

    ‘a Puritan parliamentarian’
    ‘he was of Puritan stock’
    • ‘The religious intensity of Puritan settlers infused every facet of life in seventeenth-century New England, including criminality.’
    • ‘To the extent that Puritan discipline is derived from scripture only indirectly, some form of interpretation is occurring.’
    • ‘Andrea was amongst the first group of younger men to translate and print Puritan works in Italian while still a student in Rome.’
    • ‘The long arm of Puritan persecution continued to harass those who embraced dissenting views causing a Baptist migration to New Jersey.’
    • ‘A number of Puritan clerics in Old England harshly criticized their New England brethren for not converting the Indians before killing them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Individuals who willfully refused to comply with Puritan precepts were excluded altogether from the promise of grace.’
    • ‘If official policy destroyed Stuart Britain's important collections, disasters also came at a lower level as Puritan iconoclasts embarked on an orgy of destruction of religious art.’
    • ‘In England, it remained distinctively regional, and was particularly associated with areas of Puritan activism and social predominance like Essex.’
    • ‘Byrd only explains williams's response to Puritan hermeneutics.’
    • ‘The generosity of Hooker's reading of Scripture made it accessible to those who could never belong to Puritan society.’
    • ‘His career as an MP ended with the Addled Parliament of 1614, and he died in 1620, leaving money - and a share in a Smithfield pub - to a number of puritan causes.’
    • ‘With all Puritan preachers, Biblical texts provided the fundamental concepts for religious discourse.’
    • ‘On both sides of her family she could trace her ancestry back to Puritan settlers and landed gentry.’
    • ‘Our data from the cemetery in Harvard Square, a bastion of Puritan religious and intellectual power, seems to demonstrate this point.’
    • ‘The religious experiments of Archbishop Laud reactivated Puritan militancy.’
    • ‘To trace their sources one can turn to sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Puritan thought and practice.’
    • ‘So, for instance, we have one essay on John Browne's purchase of crown lands in Boston after the dissolution of the monasteries, while another looks at puritan reform in Chester through the career of the wonderfully named Henry Hardware.’
    • ‘However, the style of argument used by Owen, in line with most other puritan writers, may prove rather difficult for readers who have neither the time nor the inclination to consider this subject in detail.’
    • ‘Such warfare was at odds with both Puritan theology and accepted military practices.’
    1. 1.1 Having or displaying censorious moral beliefs, especially about pleasure and sex.
      ‘as the puritan ethic has weakened, hedonism has replaced it’
      ‘a puritan conscience’
      • ‘Your favorite bookstore will not turn into puritan central.’
      • ‘The roof's prism casts the light throughout the chapel, balancing the only other objects inside - a puritan aesthetic of elegantly austere seating, a simple organ and the barest suggestion of an altar.’
      • ‘Its appeal to the work ethic and to clan loyalty should go straight to Scotland's puritan heart.’
      • ‘It came as a great surprise to me that Toronto - who still gives off a bit of puritan vibe until you get to know her - is as slothful in the mornings as a couple newly in love.’
      • ‘Gaiman even managed to make Milton - that old puritan codger - seem sexy and that's praise enough, right there.’
      • ‘Bangalore seemed to suit him better, with its catholicity of social life and its absence of puritan guardians of moral behaviour.’
      • ‘Individualism in our culture is further reinforced by competitive capitalism, at least partially rooted in the puritan ethic of our forebears.’
      • ‘This is Jacobean comedy at its documentary best: a salty, vivid report on the eternal clash between the puritan ethic and spendthrift snobbery.’
      • ‘For this puritan economic ethic it was about getting the economic essentials right.’
      • ‘I felt as if I were surrounded by the austere puritan heritage of a Protestant church in New England.’
      • ‘Suffused with puritan guilt, his self interest had its limits.’
      • ‘Stephen King has said that he sees himself as an heir to puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards.’
      • ‘Our puritan culture often inhibits us from thoroughly educating our adolescents or at times from even allowing frank and open discussion on sex education and the human body.’
      • ‘She would never regard the frontier as the breeding ground of puritan virtues.’
      • ‘A left-over puritan work ethic encourages us to buy into the glib sales pitches, You have to work the principles for the principles to work for you.’
      • ‘The biggest sleep robber of all, however, is work - the puritan ethic gone haywire in an era of global markets.’
      • ‘Townsend referred to his ‘substructure of puritan tradition’ and the austerity of his ‘intellectual integrity of attitude’.’
      • ‘Feng Yuxiang's forces were subjected with severity to their commander's puritan morals: no drinking, gambling, swearing, or resort to prostitutes was permitted.’
      • ‘Many of Wahhab's puritan teachings bore certain similarities to those of Cromwell's 17th century supporters in England and their cousins in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.’
      • ‘A small number of people in London and puritan Connecticut developed the takeover scheme and English gunboats found an overwhelmed, isolated populace not prepared to fight for a company they increasingly disliked.’
      moralistic, pietistic, strait-laced, tight-laced, stuffy, starchy, prissy, prudish, puritan, prim, priggish, victorian, schoolmarmish, schoolmistressy, old-maidish, narrow-minded, censorious, sententious
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Late 16th century: from late Latin puritas ‘purity’ + -an.