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noun ag·nos·tic \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\

Simple Definition of agnostic

  • : a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not

  • : a person who does not believe or is unsure of something

Full Definition of agnostic

  1. 1 :  a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly :  one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

  2. 2 :  a person who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something <political agnostics>

ag·nos·ti·cism play \-tə-ˌsi-zəm\ noun

Examples of agnostic

  1. Even polytheists … were in fact tolerated, as Islamic rule spread to most of India. Only the total unbeliever—the agnostic or atheist—was beyond the pale of tolerance … —Bernard Lewis, Islam in History, 1993

  2. Supporters of education vouchers … will love what Norman Macrae has to say on the subject. Teachers' unions and other opponents of vouchers … will deplore it. Voucher agnostics (and I include myself) might find that the proposal not only answers most doubts but also makes sense on issues they've never much thought about. —William Raspberry, Springfield (Massachusetts) Union, 14 Aug. 1987

  3. I call myself an agnostic. I do not really have any faith, any coherent religious faith, and yet the one thing in my life that I feel passionate and evangelical about is poetry. —Maxine Kumin, “An Interview at Interlochen,” 1977, in To Make a Prairie, 1979

Origin of agnostic

Greek agnōstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnōstos known, from gignōskein to know — more at know

First Known Use: 1869

Other Christian Religious Terms



adjective ag·nos·tic \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\

Definition of agnostic

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, or being an agnostic (see 1agnostic) :  involving or characterized by agnosticism

  2. 2 :  noncommittal, undogmatic

Examples of agnostic

  1. Cladistics classifies organisms in nested hierarchies based exclusively on their order of branching. (I should say that I am quite agnostic about this theory, so I do not write as a shill.) —Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, March 1995

  2. The composition comes alive in stanzas V and VI. This is the dark night. I hoped my readers would remember John of the Cross's poem. My night is not gracious, but secular, puritan, and agnostic. An existentialist night. —Robert Lowell, Collected Prose, 1987

  3. … I thought that by the time I was past thirty-five—at the very least agnostic and surely swept by the bleak winds of existentialism—I had abandoned the Presbyterian precepts of my childhood. —William Styron, This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, 1982

Origin of agnostic

(see 1agnostic)

First Known Use: 1873

Other Christian Religious Terms

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February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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