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pagan
pa·gan


noun  (plural pa·gans)
1. follower of a less popular religion: somebody who does not follow one of the world’s main religions, especially somebody who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, and whose religion is regarded as questionable ( sometimes considered offensive )

2. polytheist or pantheist: a follower of an ancient polytheistic or pantheistic religion

3. heathen: somebody who has no religion ( disapproving )



adjective 
1. of a less popular religion: believing in or relating to a religion that is not one of the world’s main religions and is regarded as questionable

2. following polytheistic or pantheistic religion: believing in or relating to an ancient polytheistic or pantheistic religion

3. nonreligious: having no religion ( sometimes considered offensive )

[14th century. Via late Latin paganus  from Latin, “villager, civilian,” from pagus  “rural district” (source of English peasant).]

pa·gan·ish adjective
pa·gan·ism noun
pa·gan·is·tic adjective

Word History

The Latin word pagus , from which pagan is derived, originally meant “something stuck in the ground as a landmark.” It was extended metaphorically to “rural district, village,” and the noun paganus  was derived from it, denoting “country dweller, villager.” This shifted in meaning, first to “civilian,” and then (based on the early Christian notion that all members of the Church were “soldiers” of Christ) to “heathen.”

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