Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


It is not fitting for Christians to hold a festival in honor of a heathen god.

My opinion then, is, that he wants to be transported, if he is to turn up such a heathen as that!

The truth is that you were a lady at the Court of Clovis, and I was a heathen captive.

I asked him what were heathen lands, and he said they were countries where heathen lived.

Steadily drearier grew the ocean, flatter all the heathen lands.

Water from here to Naples, water from here to heathen lands.

For I am the start of the voyage—over the ocean to heathen lands!

Some man, however, came by chance that cave within to the heathen hoard.

It was presumed, at least, that everyone was singing a prayer for the heathen.

"If he is a Christian I prefer to be a heathen," he observed.


Old English hæðen "not Christian or Jewish," also as a noun, "heathen man" (especially of the Danes), merged with Old Norse heiðinn (adj.) "heathen, pagan."

Perhaps literally "pertaining to one inhabiting uncultivated land," from heath + -en (2). But historically assumed to be from Gothic haiþno "gentile, heathen woman," used by Ulfilas in the first translation of the Bible into a Germanic language (cf. Mark vii:26, for "Greek"); if so it could be a derivative of Gothic haiþi "dwelling on the heath," but this sense is not recorded. It may have been chosen on model of Latin paganus, with its root sense of "rural" (see pagan), or for resemblance to Greek ethne (see gentile), or it may be a literal borrowing of that Greek word, perhaps via Armenian hethanos [Sophus Bugge]. Like other basic words for exclusively Christian ideas (e.g. church) it likely would have come first into Gothic and then spread to other Germanic languages.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.