The Meaning of Heathens: What It Is and How To Use It

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Has someone ever called you a heathen? This article will define the word heathen and teach you how to use it in a sentence. It will cover the denotation and connotation of this oft-religious word. Then, we’ll teach you translations, synonyms, and antonyms of heathen and the origin of the word heathen. 

Keep reading to learn more about the word heathen!

What Does Heathens Mean?

Dictionary states that the word heathen is a noun that refers to a nonreligious person or an atheist. We can also use heathen to refer to a psychopath or uncivilized person, but the word usually has religious connotations. Heathen is also an adjective that people can use to describe a nonbeliever. The pronunciation of heathen is ​​ˈhi ðən.

An alternate noun form of heathen is the word heathendom, and the adjective form of heathen is heathenish. “Heathens” is also a Twenty One Pilots song, a band colloquially known as TØP and led by Tyler Joseph.

How Can We Use Heathens in a Sentence?

There are many situations where you can use this word of the day. However, calling someone a heathen can be quite offensive, so make sure that you think carefully before using this word. To learn how to use the word heathen in a sentence, you can reference the below examples of heathen. 

After you are confident in your knowledge of the definition of the word heathen, you can try creating your own example sentences.

Example #1: What Makes a Heathen?

The devout Christian called the Muslim and the Jew heathens for not believing in the same God of the Bible. However, they were not heathens and were simply believers in Islam and Judaism, and the Christian was a hypocrite.

Example #2: A Group of Heathens

The campus organization of nonbelievers came under fire from the religious groups, but they were protected under the university’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion rules. While the religious groups were up in arms, the supposed heathens had as much of a right to organize as they did.

What Is the Etymology of Heathens?

Heathen has been in the English language for a long time — since before the year 900 CE! This word was originally the Middle English hethen and Old English hǣthen. However, these terms are of Germanic origin and come from the German Heide and heidnisch, the Old Norse heithingi and heithinn, and the Gothic haithno.

What Are Translations of Heathens?

While it would not be kind to call somebody a heathen in another language, there are several situations in which it could be useful to know the translation of the word heathen. 

If you are studying religions of other cultures, or if you are going to be traveling to another country where English is not the primary language, referencing this list of translations of heathen from Nice Translator could prove useful. 

You might notice that some of the below translations of heathen look similar to one another. They may also look similar to an English synonym of the word heathen: pagan. This is likely because they have a similar root word or etymology. 

  • Kannada: ಹೀದನ್
  • Slovenian: pogani
  • Hebrew: עוֹבֵד אֵלִילִים
  • Urdu: صحت
  • Romanian: păgân
  • Malay: kafir
  • Latvian: pagānu
  • Serbian: погански
  • Hindi: बुतपरस्त
  • Basque: pela
  • Arabic: همجي
  • Korean: 이교도
  • Greek: αλλόθρησκος
  • Portuguese (Brazil): pagão
  • Spanish: pagano
  • Telugu: అన్యజనులు
  • Japanese: 異教徒
  • German: Heiden-
  • Swahili: Heathen
  • Malayalam: ജാതി
  • Turkish: dinsiz
  • Czech: pohan
  • Indonesian: kafir
  • Welsh: ngwrionau
  • Estonian: paganlik
  • Icelandic: heiðnir
  • Vietnamese: người ngoại đạo
  • Amharic: አረማውያን
  • Tamil: புறஜாதி
  • Chinese (PRC): 异教徒
  • Bulgarian: Хийтън
  • Italian: pagano
  • Hungarian: pogány
  • Ukrainian: язичник
  • Portuguese (Portugal): pagão
  • Dutch: heidenen
  • Polish: pogański
  • Croatian: popeota
  • Bengali: হিথেন
  • Danish: hedning
  • Slovak: pohan
  • Finnish: pakana
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 異教徒
  • Norwegian: hedning
  • Russian: язычник
  • Filipino: Heathen
  • Swedish: hedning
  • Marathi: हेथन
  • Catalan: pay
  • French: païen
  • Lithuanian: pagonys
  • Gujarati: અકસ્માતનું
  • Thai: คนนอกรีต

What Are Synonyms of Heathens?

Heathen is quite a strong word with a negative, religious connotation. If you are looking for a word with a similar definition to heathen but a different connotation, you can use one of the below synonyms of heathen from Power Thesaurus

Learning synonyms of words like heathen is a great way to grow your vocabulary! 

  • agnostic
  • apostate
  • atheist
  • atheistic
  • barbarian
  • barbaric
  • barbarous
  • blasphemous
  • disbeliever
  • disbelieving
  • doubter
  • ethnic
  • faithless
  • freethinker
  • gentile
  • gentiles
  • godless
  • heathenish
  • heretic
  • heretical
  • idolater
  • idolatress
  • idolatrous
  • impious
  • infidel
  • infidels
  • irreligious
  • irreverent
  • non-believing
  • nonbeliever
  • nullifidian
  • pagan
  • paganish
  • pagans
  • paynim
  • philistine
  • primitive
  • profane
  • sacrilegious
  • savage
  • skeptic
  • unbeliever
  • unbelievers
  • unbelieving
  • uncivilized
  • ungodly
  • unholy

What Are Antonyms of Heathens?

If someone is the opposite of a heathen, they are likely devoutly religious. Power Thesaurus also provides numerous antonyms of the word heathen. Do you know anybody you would describe using one of the below words? 

  • abbot
  • Abrahamic
  • ascetic
  • believing
  • brother
  • canonical
  • cenobite
  • Christian
  • church
  • churchgoing
  • churchly
  • clerical
  • conscientious
  • consecrated
  • conventual
  • dedicated
  • deific
  • deistic
  • devoted
  • devotional
  • devout
  • divine
  • doctrinal
  • ecclesiastic
  • ecclesiastical
  • evangelical
  • faith
  • faith-based
  • faithful
  • friar
  • god-fearing
  • godly
  • goody-goody
  • hallowed
  • holy
  • interfaith
  • meticulous
  • ministerial
  • monastic
  • monk
  • numinous
  • orthodox
  • pietistic
  • pious
  • prayerful
  • priestly
  • punctilious
  • pure
  • religion
  • religious
  • reverent
  • reverential
  • righteous
  • rigorous
  • sacerdotal
  • sacramental
  • sacred
  • sacrosanct
  • saintly
  • sanctified
  • scriptural
  • scrupulous
  • spiritual
  • strict
  • theological
  • worshipful


The definition of heathen is someone who is not religious or is a nonbeliever. While this word is usually used in a religious context, it can be used informally to reference somebody who is uncultured or uncivilized. This word has a negative connotation, so think carefully before describing someone as a heathen. 


Heathen synonyms | Power Thesaurus 

Heathen antonyms | Power Thesaurus 

Heathen Definition & Meaning | 

Heathen | Nice Translator