ag·​nos·​tic | \ ag-ˈnä-stik How to pronounce agnostic (audio) , əg- \

Definition of agnostic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such 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 : a person who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something political agnostics



Definition of agnostic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being an agnostic : involving or characterized by agnosticism
3a : not preferring a particular device or system usually used after a noun "Children are platform agnostic," said Alice Cahn, vice-president of development for Cartoon Network. "If you want to look foolish with a preschooler, say, 'Sorry, you can't watch that. It's not on.' It's TiVoed, it's online, it's on video on demand."Business Wire
b : designed to be compatible with different devices (such as computers or smartphones) or operating systems usually used after a noun content that is OS agnostic often used in combination The application is platform-agnostic, so it can work on your tablet or cell phone.

How Agnostic Differs From Atheist


Many people are interested in distinguishing between the words agnostic and atheist. The difference is quite simple: atheist refers to someone who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods, and agnostic refers to someone who doesn’t know whether there is a god, or even if such a thing is knowable. This distinction can be troublesome to remember, but examining the origins of the two words can help.

Agnostic first appeared in 1869, (possibly coined by the English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley), and was formed from the Greek agnōstos (meaning "unknown, unknowable"). Atheist came to English from the French athéisme. Although both words share a prefix (which is probably the source of much of the confusion) the main body of each word is quite different. Agnostic shares part of its history with words such as prognosticate and prognosis, words which have something to do with knowledge or knowing something. Atheist shares roots with words such as theology and theism, which generally have something to do with God.

Examples of agnostic in a Sentence

Noun 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 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 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 Prairie1979 Adjective 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 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 … 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For example, modern BI tools can be: • Data-source agnostic, meaning any data source can be incorporated into the environment. Omri Kohl, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Fair Square, which employs about 25 people, has tailored its service to be commission agnostic, according to Petkevich. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Aug. 2022 The term influencer was platform agnostic and described the growing and amorphous power that came with online fame. Taylor Lorenz, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 Ensure software is bot-agnostic and can work seamlessly. Sudha Chandrasekharan, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 Kwami Abdul-Bey, an agnostic, enrolled his 6-year-old son, Lorne, in the program, and attended Monday's opening ceremony. Frank E. Lockwood, Arkansas Online, 2 July 2022 Thåström is written as a harsh existentialist, political and speaks succinctly, while Cave is the opposite, a struggling Dionysian agnostic, and a romantic dreamer who swims in words. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 June 2022 CISOs must now devise strategies to ensure that data is protected (often at the record level) in a manner agnostic to where it is stored or processed. Ameesh Divatia, Forbes, 2 June 2022 Neither of us -- Arin, a Jewish atheist, nor I, a Catholic agnostic -- ever felt comfortable with the masses, the crossings, the acts of adoration, all the trappings of institutional religion. Dave Lucas, CNN, 15 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The rise of Neutral Host platforms—neutral and agnostic to providers from connectivity to cloud. Dr. Ganesh Sundaram, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 What's more, the feature appears to be streamer-agnostic, as multiple Stadia-like streaming services have started appearing in search results. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 12 Aug. 2022 That's why many businesses move into a multicloud or hybrid cloud model, which adopts a platform-agnostic approach to workload optimization. Steve Daly, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 Lauv’s genre-agnostic approach to music means that All 4 Nothing spans a lot of different styles while still being grounded in his larger-than-life feelings. Maura Johnston, Rolling Stone, 5 Aug. 2022 Under its business model, Replay separates its platform technologies, which are meant to be agnostic, from specific drug development efforts. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 July 2022 Technology will only enable us to respond to and manage disruptors if the hardware is expandable, the software easily scalable and all components are agnostic. Suresh Menon, Forbes, 17 June 2022 In our era of genre-agnostic listeners clicking around streaming platforms, perhaps that’s unsurprising. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 27 Apr. 2022 Pruitt’s race-agnostic approach to clientele, posing Black and white sitters in the same wicker peacock chair and under the same lights, was fairly unheard of for the time, says Hudson. Janine Latus, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'agnostic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of agnostic


1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1870, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for agnostic


Greek ágnōstos "unknown, unknowable" (from a- a- entry 2 + gnōstós "known," variant of gnōtós, verbal adjective of gignṓskein "to know entry 1") + -ic entry 2 (after gnostic)


derivative of agnostic entry 1

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Agnostic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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