Student Dictionary

One entry found for pagan.
Main Entry: pa·gan
Pronunciation: primarystresspamacr-gschwan
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English pagan "heathen," from Latin paganus (same meaning), from earlier paganus "person who lives in a rural area," from pagus "village, district"
2 : a person who is not religious
- pagan adjective
- pa·gan·ism /-gschwa-secondarystressniz-schwam/ noun
Word History In ancient Rome a person living in a rural area or village was called paganus, a word derived from the Latin noun pagus, meaning "village, district." In time paganus came to refer to a civilian as opposed to a soldier. When Christianity became generally accepted in the towns and cities of the empire, paganus was used to refer to a villager who continued to worship the old gods. Christians used the term for anyone not of their faith or of the Jewish faith. The word in Old English for such a person was what is now heathen. In the 14th century, English borrowed the Latin paganus as pagan, and used it with the same meaning. In time both heathen and pagan also took on the meaning of "a person having no religion."

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