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See also: Atheist and atheïst


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


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


atheist (plural atheists)

  1. A person who does not believe in deities.
    • 1910, The Vermont Digest 1789-1905[1], 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. [] Changed by Acts of 1851, No. 12 (P. S. 1593), under which, no question can be raised as to a witness's "opinions on matters of religious belief."
    1. (strictly) A person who believes that no deities exist (especially, one who has no other religious belief).
      • 1571 October 20, Golding, Arthur, “The Epistle Dedicatory”, in Psalmes of Dauid and others, with M. John Caluin's Commentaries[2]:
        Ageine, the Atheistes, which say in their hartes there is no God; []
      • 1953 November 3, Russell, Bertrand, “What is an Agnostic?”, in Look[3]:
        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, Holyoake, G. J., “A Reciprocal Dialogue”, in Paterson, Thomas, editors, The Oracle of Reason, Or, Philosophy Vindicated[4], volume 2, number 64, page 89:
        Minister—Are you really an Atheist?
        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, Dawkins, Richard, “The God Hypothesis”, in The God Delusion[5], 1st Am. edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, →ISBN, LCCN 2006015506, OL 7606171M, LCC BL2775.3.D39 2006, 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[6], 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?
  2. (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, Gibbon, Edward, chapter 16, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume 1, new edition, page 183:
      Malice and prejudice concurred in representing the Christians 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 February, Dawkins, Richard, Richard Dawkins on militant atheism[7]:
      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.
    • 2009, Lyndon Lamborn, Standing For Something More: The Excommunication of Lyndon Lamborn, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 171:
      Throughout history, atheists were simply people who did not believe the prevalent God of the day. For the sun-worshippers, Christians were atheists. For Jewish people, Christians were atheists. Whoever does not believe in your God is by definition, an atheist. [] With all the countless Gods concocted by man, I claim that my Christian friends and I have something in common. We are all atheists, I just believe in one less God than they.
  3. (proscribed) A person who does not believe in any religion (not even a religion without gods)


For more quotations using this term, see Citations:atheist.





Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


atheist (comparative more atheist, superlative most atheist)

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



atheist (third-person singular simple present atheists, present participle atheisting, simple past and past participle atheisted)

  1. (transitive, very rare) To make someone an atheist.
    • 1646, Samuel Bolton, The arraignment of errour,
      The multitude of opinions doth draw him away, or else Atheist him, that he will be nothing. [] The multitude of opinions [] doth un-atheist him, put him upon the search and examination what is the truth of God.


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • atheist at OneLook Dictionary Search