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From heathen +‎ -ism, coined in the 17th century in place of the then-obsolete heathendom. First attested in Francis Bacon's Of the advancement of learning (1605), II. xiv. §9: "The heresy of the Anthropomorphites [...] and the opinion of Epicurus, answerable to the same in heathenism, who supposed the gods to be in human shape" (OED).


heathenism (countable and uncountable, plural heathenisms)

  1. paganism, heathendom
    • 2009, Adeline Masquelier, Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town, Page 88
      [] they urge all followers of the Prophet to return to an authentic Islam, devoid of heathenism and innovations.
    Synonym: heathenship

Coordinate terms[edit]