nounpl. -·thens or -·then
- in the Old Testament, a member of any nation or people not worshiping the God of Israel
- anyone not a Jew, Christian, or Muslim; esp., a member of a tribe, nation, etc. worshiping many gods: now chiefly a dismissive or disparaging term
- a person regarded as irreligious, uncivilized, unenlightened, etc.
Origin of heathenMiddle English hethen from Old English hæthen from hæth, heath; like Gothic haithn?, gentile (woman) from haithi, heath (hence literally , “heath dweller”) a loan translated, translation used by Ulfilas for Ecclesiastical Late Latin paganus (see pagan), taken in its Classical Latin sense, “a countryman, rustic” from pagus, the country
- of or characteristic of heathens; pagan
- irreligious, uncivilized, etc.