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n. pl. hea·thens or heathen
1. Offensive
a. An adherent of a religion that does not worship the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
b. Such persons considered as a group.
2. Heathen An adherent of a Neopagan religion that seeks to revive the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Germanic peoples.
3. Informal
a. One who is regarded as irreligious, uncivilized, or unenlightened.
b. Such persons considered as a group.

[Middle English hethen, from Old English hǣthen; see kaito- in Indo-European roots.]

hea′then adj.
hea′then·dom, hea′then·ism, hea′then·ry n.
hea′then·ish adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Alternative Belief Systems) heathen lands, peoples, or beliefs
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
The nunnery flourished for more than a century, when, in the time of Penda, who was the reactionary of heathendom, it fell into decay.
My one sufficient object was to greet that pious friend of mine, the Apostle Eliot, and rejoice with him over the many precious souls he hath won from heathendom!"
It is well known how the monks wrote silly lives of Catholic Saints over the manuscripts on which the classical works of ancient heathendom had been written.
It is the rustiest old barn in heathendom. I believe all the interest that attaches to it comes from the fact that it was built for a Christian church and then turned into a mosque, without much alteration, by the Mohammedan conquerors of the land.
Wherefore, I am minded to put the Great Carbuncle on shipboard, and voyage with it to England, France, Spain, Italy, or into Heathendom, if Providence should send me thither, and, in a word, dispose of the gem to the best bidder among the potentates of the earth, that he may place it among his crown jewels.
"Primitive savages" with indecency and immorality and human sacrificing needed churches and schools and western clothing to overcome heathendom. Moralists pitched Christianity, hitting "the primitives" with righteousness and deadly epidemics, prompting Mark Twain's polemic, While the "disease of civilization" killed the natives, the "heirs" of the missionaries and Dole, excitedly joined by Mr.
In all heathendom, is there No man that she loves, no man Whom she would want to marry?
Behind Heathendom: archaeological studies of Old Norse religion.--Scottish Archaeological Journal, 27: 2, 105-138.
In his speech "Having No Hope and without God," Bishop Elam Stauffer, a missionary to Africa with the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, recounted the horrors of "heathendom" he witnessed in a tribe practicing witchcraft.
retracing my step Back downtown from the city of Heathendom I met a
"Among the spoil of the city (which was not so great as they expected, as many things were hidden in the hills of the interior), was found the tooth of Buddum (Lord Buddha), which our Historians said by a manifest error was (that) of a monkey, and which was one of the most sacred objects of worship in the heathendom of the South and Tartary, as we said in the first Book, being the one which Tribule Pandar (Vidye Bandara) carried from the city of Cota; and when they informed D.
Hence the main goals of the missionary enterprise were to "civilize" and "evangelize." While the earliest missionaries approached China with the charge of rescuing her citizens from heathendom, the twentieth-century missionaries focused on uplifting the downtrodden, regenerating the human spirit, and introducing Christian conscience to protest social injustices (74).