Definition of recusant in 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the very least, then, Fowler and her family were actively involved in a Midlands network of recusants.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.
      • ‘More specifically, a recusant was someone who refused to attend Protestant church services.’
      • ‘Another 300 Catholic priests, missionaries, and recusants were tried and executed in England for religious beliefs judged as treason between 1535 and 1680.’
      • ‘They were forbidden to hear Mass, forced instead to attend Anglican services, with steep fines for those recusants who persistently refused.’
      • ‘Like every English person of his time, Shakespeare descended from Catholic antecedents, and like many he numbered recusants among his extended family.’
      • ‘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.’
      nonconformist, protestant, freethinker
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  • Of or denoting a recusant.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Having had some narrow escapes the priest was eventually arrested as a recusant priest and was tried by revolutionary Court.’
    • ‘Later still, I learnt that it was quite likely he'd been born Catholic, from a recusant family.’
    • ‘A recusant Catholic would not be the possessor of that right.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Monmouthshire was indeed the strongest recusant area in the kingdom, apart from Lancashire.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Indeed, the law has already been abused by some university administrators who now have the power to punish recusant colleagues.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘His ravishing portrait of the young English recusant nun Elizabeth Throckmorton (c. 1729; Washington, NG) is a case in point.’
    • ‘After the excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570, the purpose of legislation changed from securing royal supremacy to defeating the new recusant missionary campaign.’
    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).