If you don't believe in God — or if you contradict other beliefs of a religion — you are a heathen.

There are plenty of nonbelievers, but a heathen is something more — someone who is actively offensive to a religion. The term is tied to the Gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam; someone who rejects the various gods of Hinduism, for example, is not likely to be called a heathen. Heathens are sometimes called infidels and pagans. These days, the term is often used humorously. An atheist might jokingly refer to herself as a heathen.

Definitions of heathen
  1. noun
    a person who does not acknowledge your god
    synonyms: gentile, infidel, pagan
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    a heathen; a person who is not a Christian (especially a Muslim)
    idol worshiper, idolater, idoliser, idolizer
    a person who worships idols
    a woman idolater
    type of:
    nonreligious person
    a person who does not manifest devotion to a deity
  2. noun
    a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement
    synonyms: Goth, barbarian, boor, churl, peasant, tike, tyke
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    type of:
    disagreeable person, unpleasant person
    a person who is not pleasant or agreeable
  3. adjective
    not acknowledging the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam
    synonyms: ethnic, heathenish, pagan
    hostile or indifferent to religion
Word Family

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