athe·​ism | \ ˈā-thē-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce atheism (audio) \

Definition of atheism

1a : a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
b : a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
2 archaic : godlessness especially in conduct : ungodliness, wickedness

Examples of atheism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Once upon a time, Bernie Sanders would have had another political vulnerability besides his socialism — namely, his atheism. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Bernie Sanders Is the Candidate of Nonbelievers," 3 Mar. 2020 University of Kentucky scholar Will Gervais and colleagues have found that people in several countries even tend to associate serial murder with atheism, relative to religious belief. Jordan W. Moon, Quartz, "Intense prejudice exists against atheists in the US," 28 Dec. 2019 Matt, though raised Catholic, had rejected his upbringing after college, eventually settling on atheism. Washington Post, "The holidays as an interfaith family: Trying to have a merry everything and a happy always," 9 Dec. 2019 Johanson has also won awards for championing atheism. Grant Segall, cleveland, "Donald Johanson, famous finder of Lucy’s fossils, returns to Cleveland Museum of Natural History," 24 Oct. 2019 The government cannot promote atheism over religion, that’s true. Jay Wexler, Vox, "6 things I wish people understood about atheism in America," 14 June 2019 Even as the country has become, overall, more tolerant and more accepting of other faith traditions, atheism has long remained the conspicuous exception. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "Spiritual or atheist? More nonbelievers are saying ‘both.’," 11 Mar. 2019 In 1992, the government dropped its constitutional references to atheism, and a gradual thaw in church-state relations began, culminating with the papal visit on Jan. 21-25, 1998, and government acceptance of some outdoor religious events. Peter Orsi,, "Cardinal Ortega, former archbishop of Havana, at 82," 27 July 2019 But Einstein also closed his letter with a sentiment that is often overlooked in the complicated and, in fact, wildly diverse landscape of American nonbelief, including atheism and its less strident cousin, agnosticism. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "Spiritual or atheist? More nonbelievers are saying ‘both.’," 11 Mar. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of atheism

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for atheism

Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about atheism

Time Traveler for atheism

Time Traveler

The first known use of atheism was in 1546

See more words from the same year

Statistics for atheism

Cite this Entry

“Atheism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on atheism

What made you want to look up atheism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!