Main meanings of pagan in English

: pagan1Pagan2


Pronunciation /ˈpeɪɡ(ə)n/

See synonyms for pagan

Translate pagan into Spanish


  • 1(especially in historical contexts) a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main or recognized religions.

    ‘the incoming Germanic peoples were pagans’
    • ‘It is a common belief that witches and pagans are devil worshipers, but they are not.’
    • ‘Whether the spouses are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Parsis, pagans or heathens, is wholly irrelevant in the application of these provisions.’
    • ‘There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters.’
    • ‘My happiness, strengths, passive aggressive tendencies and insecurities are likely to be the same regardless of whether or not I currently identify as a pagan, atheist or Gnostic.’
    • ‘In fact Aurelian was a pagan who set up a religion dedicated to Sol the sun god.’
    • ‘The author suggests that those who were not Jews, Christians, or Muslims, were all pagans.’
    • ‘Casebolt offered 20 labels, including pagan, atheist and agnostic in his Midwestern survey.’
    • ‘I have noted that biblical religion opposed the supernaturalism of the ancient pagan.’
    • ‘We have a good deal of information about the polemical and often bitter arguments Christians, Jews, and pagans had with one another in the early centuries.’
    • ‘I lean more toward the type of magic commonly associated with Wiccans and pagans, I don't have any particular religion just yet, but I found what works best for me.’
    • ‘She feels fulfilled by her mixture of pagan and Christian beliefs and sees no need for spells.’
    • ‘But for pagans, magicians were the consultants of their day.’
    • ‘While social factors may explain why increasing numbers of aristocrats adopted Christianity, they surely do not explain all conversions of pagans in the fourth century.’
    • ‘All of us - pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews - must stand together when it comes to protecting our most sacred freedom.’
    • ‘The pagan insisted that divinity was in trees and in all of nature.’
    • ‘Today, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and pagans from all races and sects do live side-by-side in varying degrees of conflict and co-operation.’
    • ‘For the pagan and the Temple mystic, however, the world is not God's place; instead, God is the place of the world.’
    • ‘Knocking on wood is meant to bring good luck by enlisting the support of spirits who according to the ancient pagans Druids, lived in trees.’
    heathen, infidel, idolater, idolatress, atheist, non-theist, irreligious person, agnostic, sceptic, heretic, apostate
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    1. 1.1 dated, derogatory A non-Christian.
      • ‘Missionary zeal tends to offend the religious sensibilities of people by denouncing their native religions as false and pagan.’
    2. 1.2A member of a modern religious movement that seeks to incorporate beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions, especially nature worship; an adherent of neopaganism.
      ‘Wiccans consider themselves witches, pagans or neo-pagans, and say their religion is based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.’
      • ‘As an adult, I learned that there were modern Pagans.’
      • ‘What can we learn from this and apply to our lives as modern Pagans?’
      • ‘As modern Pagans this is part of our situation, for we are not sheep.’
      • ‘Interacting with our fellow Pagans, we meet proud practitioners of every alternative lifestyle imaginable.’
      • ‘Archaeologist Robert J Wallis and anthropologist Jenny Blain have been talking to modern British pagans about their beliefs and their interests in archaeological sites.’
      • ‘Although many modern pagans do not consider themselves to be witches both spiritual outlooks remain largely concerned with a naturalistic approach to spirituality.’
      • ‘According to one major study, Wiccans - one of several subgroups of pagans - made up the fastest-growing religion in the continental United States in the 1990s.’


  • 1(especially in historical contexts) holding or constituting religious beliefs other than those of the main or recognized religions.

    ‘a pagan god’
    • ‘ancient pagan rituals associated with spring’
    • ‘They sent up a fragrance of sweet oil and illuminated the soft wall-paintings of pagan heroes and gods.’
    • ‘After all, there were Anglo-Saxon pagan gods to sing about as well.’
    • ‘Before Ukraine adopted Christianity in 988, the inhabitants believed in pagan gods who ruled over the sun, stars, and moon.’
    • ‘To the south, in England, heathenism still reigned in the various kingdoms ruled by the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons, and pagan gods were worshipped.’
    • ‘Yet, it was at the hill of Tara that St. Patrick lit the first Paschal fire in 433, which local high king Laoighire regarded as defiance against his pagan gods.’
    • ‘The date had long been held sacred as Imbolg, the Celtic festival of Spring, but after Christianity arrived, Saint Brigid was honoured instead of the pagan gods.’
    • ‘David Miles recalls finding Christian jewels in a cemetery of West Saxons newly converted from pagan beliefs.’
    • ‘Most ancient pagan beliefs place more emphasis upon the non-uniformities of Nature than the regularities.’
    • ‘Excavation of the graves revealed an astonishing world of pagan beliefs.’
    • ‘The author's treatment of the plagues is enlightened by his knowledge of ancient Egypt; he draws out their symbolic significance as a direct challenge to the pagan beliefs and gods of Egypt.’
    • ‘Following a preliminary inspection of the site, Mr Downe said he believed the ruins were part of a prehistoric roundabout that may have also been used for pagan ceremonies.’
    • ‘Some tattoos are of course more obvious in their meaning, but a good number of others draw on mythology, pagan runes, organizational logos and acronyms.’
    • ‘Bealtaine, apart from being the Irish word for the month of May, was a festival in pagan Ireland celebrating Spring and heralding the arrival of Summer.’
    • ‘I had a romantic notion that the roots of the Irish jig lay in far distant celtic, pagan roots, but it may be that it was just an import from 17th Century Continental Europe.’
    • ‘Within the Christian celebration, however, may be traced the faint outline of the older and perhaps darker pagan festival which it replaced.’
    • ‘Tobernalt is an ancient, pagan assembly place, approximately three miles east of Sligo town, near the shores of Lough Gill.’
    • ‘It seems to me that regardless of whether you are an agnostic or an atheist, mainstream or pagan, religious or not there is still a dignity in death that we can all learn from.’
    • ‘As with many of our religious holidays, the traditions are a mixture of pagan, Jewish, Christian and other beliefs.’
    • ‘Persecution and absorption into popular Christianity served to cut short many pagan religious practices.’
    • ‘I was just researching Lady Godiva to see if I can find out whether there are any pagan religious roots to the story, because I feel like there must surely be.’
    1. 1.1Relating or adhering to a modern religious movement that seeks to incorporate beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions, especially nature worship; neopagan.
      ‘the winter solstice is a major pagan festival’
      • ‘a pagan faith group’


Late Middle English from Latin paganus ‘villager, rustic’, from pagus ‘country district’. Latin paganus also meant ‘civilian’, becoming, in Christian Latin, ‘heathen’ (i.e. one not enrolled in the army of Christ).

Main meanings of Pagan in English

: pagan1Pagan2


Pronunciation /pəˈɡɑːn/

See synonyms for Pagan

Translate Pagan into Spanish

proper noun

  • A town in Burma (Myanmar), situated on the River Irrawaddy south-east of Mandalay. It is the site of an ancient city, founded in about AD 849, which was the capital of a powerful Buddhist dynasty from the 11th to the end of the 13th centuries.