atheist

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See also: Atheist and atheïst

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From French athéiste (athée + -iste), from Latin atheos, from Ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos, godless, without god), from ἀ- (a-, without) + θεός (theos, god)..

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈeɪθiɪst/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: a‧the‧ist

Noun[edit]

atheist (plural atheists)

  1. (narrowly) A person who believes that no deities exist (especially, one who has no other religious belief).
    • 1571 October 20, Arthur Golding, “The Epistle Dedicatory”, in Psalmes of Dauid and others, with M. John Caluin's Commentaries[1]:
      Ageine, the Atheistes, which say in their hartes there is no God; []
    • 1953 November 3, Bertrand Russell, “What is an Agnostic?”[2], Look: 
      An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God. The Christian holds that we can know there is a God; the atheist, that we can know there is not.
  2. (broadly) A person who rejects belief that any deities exist (whether or not that person believes that deities do not exist).
    • 1843, G. J. Holyoake, “A Reciprocal Dialogue”, The Oracle of Reason, Or, Philosophy Vindicated, volume 2, number 64, page 89: 
      Minister—Are you really an Atheist?
      Atheist—Yes.
      M.—Do you deny that there is a god?
      A.—No. I deny that there is sufficient reason to believe there is one. There may be a god, but I think it rather unlikely.
    • 2006 September 18, Richard Dawkins, “The God Hypothesis”, in The God Delusion[3], edition 1st Am., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, LCC BL2775.3.D39 2006, ISBN 978-0618680009, LCCN 2006015506, OL 7606171M, page 51:
      Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. ‘I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.’
  3. (loosely) A person who has no belief in any deities, such as a person who has no concept of deities.
    • 1772, Good Sense without God: Or Freethoughts Opposed to Supernatural Ideas[4], London: W. Stewart, translation of Le Bon-Sens, ou, Idées Naturelles opposées aux Idées Surnaturelles by Paul Henry Thiry baron d'Holbach, published 2004, §30, page 21:
      All children are born Atheists; they have no idea of God. Are they then criminal on account of their ignorance?
    • 1910, The Vermont Digest 1789-1905[5], volume 2, Burlington: Free Press Printing Co:
      Atheists. One who does not believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, an atheist, is incompetent as a witness, being incapable of being sworn.
  4. (loosely, uncommon) A person who does not believe in a particular deity (or any deity in a particular pantheon), notwithstanding that they may believe in another deity.
    • 1840, Edward Gibbon, chapter 16, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume 1, edition new, page 183:
      Malice and pejudice concurred in representing the christians[sic] as a society of atheists, who, by the most daring attack on the religious constitution of the empire, had merited the severest animadversion of the civil magistrate.
    • 2002, Richard Dawkins on militant atheism[6]:
      An atheist is just somebody who feels about Yahweh the way any decent Christian feels about Thor or Baal or the golden calf. As has been said before, we are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

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Translations[edit]

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Quotations[edit]

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Adjective[edit]

atheist (comparative more atheist, superlative most atheist)

  1. Of or relating to atheists or atheism; atheistic.

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