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agnostic

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noun ag·nos·tic \ ag-ˈnäs-tik , əg- \

Definition of agnostic

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

agnosticism

play \-tə-ˌsi-zəm\ noun

Examples of agnostic in a Sentence

  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 LewisIslam in History1993
  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 RaspberrySpringfield (Massachusetts) Union14 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 Prairie1979

Recent Examples of agnostic from the Web

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.

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 believes that there is no god (or 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.

Origin and Etymology of agnostic

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

Other Christian Religious Terms


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agnostic

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

Definition of agnostic

1 :of, relating to, or being an agnostic :involving or characterized by agnosticism
3 usually used after a noun
a :not preferring a particular device or system
  • "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
  • content that is OS agnostic
often used in combination
  • The application is platform-agnostic, so it can work on your tablet or cell phone.

Examples of agnostic in a Sentence

  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 GouldNatural HistoryMarch 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 LowellCollected Prose1987
  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 StyronThis Quiet Dust and Other Writings1982

Recent Examples of agnostic from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of agnostic

Other Christian Religious Terms


AGNOSTIC Defined for English Language Learners

agnostic

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noun

Definition of agnostic for English Language Learners

  • : 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


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