Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Heathen systems of religion or morals; pagan practice or belief; paganism.
  • noun Heathenish manners or condition; the degraded or uncultured state of those who are uninfluenced by Christianity; barbarism; ignorance; irreligion: as, the heathenism of the slums.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The religious system or rites of a heathen nation; idolatry; paganism.
  • noun The manners or morals usually prevalent in a heathen country; ignorance; rudeness; barbarism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun paganism, heathendom
  • noun unchristian state or condition

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun any of various religions other than Christianity or Judaism or Islamism

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From heathen plus -ism, coined in the 17th century in place of the then-obsolete heathendom. First attested in Francis Bacon, 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).

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