Definition of recusant in US English:



  • 1A person who refuses to submit to an authority or to comply with a regulation.

    • ‘No doubt some people did feel this way, especially astronomers, computists, and recusants.’
    • ‘The Lancashire desolation and remoteness was a refuge for recusants - awkward people who were stubborn and resilient, and whose best expression was not in word but in action and a capacity to come back for more persecution.’
    • ‘From 307 he used the death penalty only rarely, but mutilated recusants and sent them to the mines; outside Egypt there were relatively few executions.’
    • ‘We cannot install any of our circle among the young lady's confidantes; Salisbury suspects them all as recusants, and advises Lord Harington whom to keep and whom to expel.’
    • ‘At the very least, then, Fowler and her family were actively involved in a Midlands network of recusants.’
    dissenter, objector, protester, disputant
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    1. 1.1historical A Roman Catholic in England who refused to attend services of the Church of England.
      ‘support for the exiled King was greatest among Catholic recusants’
      • ‘More specifically, a recusant was someone who refused to attend Protestant church services.’
      • ‘However, the government did not wish only to tighten measures against Roman Catholic missionary priests and lay recusants who refused to attend their parish churches.’
      • ‘Another 300 Catholic priests, missionaries, and recusants were tried and executed in England for religious beliefs judged as treason between 1535 and 1680.’
      • ‘Like every English person of his time, Shakespeare descended from Catholic antecedents, and like many he numbered recusants among his extended family.’
      • ‘They were forbidden to hear Mass, forced instead to attend Anglican services, with steep fines for those recusants who persistently refused.’
      nonconformist, protestant, freethinker
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  • Of or denoting a recusant.

    • ‘Indeed, the law has already been abused by some university administrators who now have the power to punish recusant colleagues.’
    • ‘Later still, I learnt that it was quite likely he'd been born Catholic, from a recusant family.’
    • ‘His early acting career probably began with performances before a network of recusant gentry in the Warwickshire area where he served as a resident player under the pseudonym Shakeshaft.’
    • ‘His ravishing portrait of the young English recusant nun Elizabeth Throckmorton (c. 1729; Washington, NG) is a case in point.’
    • ‘He was a fixture in the liturgical life of the recusant safe-houses, the great country homes of Catholic aristocrats, which served as 16 th-century catacombs riddled with secret chambers to hide fugitive priests.’
    • ‘A group of recusant players under Cholmeley's patronage toured in Yorkshire from 1606 to at least 1616 using only printed play-texts for their repertory.’
    • ‘The hand of co-editor Richard Wilson is clearly felt in the speculation on Shakespeare's possible residency in the recusant Catholic communities of the province during his so-called ‘lost years’.’
    • ‘We still have no clear idea of the extent of underground compositions written for use in the recusant community, but Byrd's masses would have been part of this campaign.’
    • ‘Elizabeth Petre, nearly fifteen years of age, was engaged to marry twenty-two year-old William Sheldon, scion of the wealthy recusant family that introduced tapestry-making to England.’
    • ‘After the excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570, the purpose of legislation changed from securing royal supremacy to defeating the new recusant missionary campaign.’
    • ‘Monmouthshire was indeed the strongest recusant area in the kingdom, apart from Lancashire.’
    • ‘Having had some narrow escapes the priest was eventually arrested as a recusant priest and was tried by revolutionary Court.’
    • ‘A recusant Catholic would not be the possessor of that right.’
    • ‘The poetry of this Staffordshire circle embraces the non-court, recusant and social milieu of the first Lord Aston, his children, their spouses and friends.’
    unorthodox, heretical, dissenting, dissident, blasphemous, nonconformist, apostate, freethinking, iconoclastic, schismatic, rebellious, renegade, separatist, sectarian, revisionist
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Mid 16th century: from Latin recusant- ‘refusing’, from the verb recusare (see recuse).