infidel

1 of 2

noun

in·​fi·​del ˈin-fə-dᵊl How to pronounce infidel (audio)
-fə-ˌdel
1
: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity
2
a
: an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion
b
: one who acknowledges no religious belief
3
: a disbeliever in something specified or understood

infidel

2 of 2

adjective

1
: not holding the faith of a given religion
Either they must come to terms with surrounding infidel tribes or they must conquer the hinterland.Daniel J. Boorstin
the infidel nations
2
: opposing or traitorous to a given religion
infidel writers
an infidel sect

Example Sentences

Noun a holy war against the infidels
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The body of the Saint Nicholas, the gift-giving bishop who inspired Santa Claus, is preserved there; in 1071, Italian sailors rescued his bones from the basilica in the city of Myra, which had been conquered by infidel Turks. Lucy Jakub, The New York Review of Books, 18 Dec. 2021 The body of the Saint Nicholas, the gift-giving bishop who inspired Santa Claus, is preserved there; in 1701, Italian sailors rescued his bones from the basilica in the city of Myra, which had been conquered by infidel Turks. Lucy Jakub, The New York Review of Books, 18 Dec. 2021 Nazar described passing through checkpoints where Taliban guards cursed him as an infidel and whipped people with chains, and being hit with tear gas by U.S. marines. Megan K. Stack, The New Yorker, 30 Aug. 2021 The spokesman made no mention of the peace talks, but Taliban delegates there have refused to recognize the U.S.-backed Afghan government’s legitimacy to negotiate, calling it an infidel foreign puppet. Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2020 Four years later, though, Reagan was the nominee, the majority of evangelicals judged Jimmy Carter something like an infidel, and, lo, forevermore, Southern Strategy 2.0 has enjoyed everlasting life. Rick Perlstein, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Aug. 2020 The video reportedly shows three masked men – with one accusing the Maldives of being run by infidels and threatening follow-up attacks. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, 6 Feb. 2020 Altogether, over 6,200 Yazidis, an ancient minority viewed as infidels by the Islamic State, went missing when the militants swept through their ancestral homeland in the Sinjar mountains of northern Iraq in 2014. Washington Post, 14 June 2019 The video reportedly features a masked man flanked by two others wagging his finger at the camera and saying that the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is run by infidels. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, 6 Feb. 2020
Adjective
But it is widely believed to have increased support for Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which believes Islam must be at war with an infidel West. Max Singer, WSJ, 3 Aug. 2017 Al-Binali was at the time reportedly head of the ISIS Research and Fatwa Department, which released a fatwa allowing rape of infidel women around the time of the campaign against the Yazidis and their subsequent enslavement. Robert Windrem, NBC News, 2 June 2017 They were forced by the Hisbah to stand up in mosques and public squares, in front of crowds, and declare their regret for having enforced the laws of the infidel government. National Geographic, 17 Oct. 2016 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French infidele, borrowed from Medieval Latin infidēlis, noun derivative of Late Latin infidēlis "unbelieving" — more at infidel entry 2

Adjective

Middle English infidele "non-Christian," borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Late Latin infidēlis "unbelieving," going back to Latin, "not keeping faith, disloyal," from in- in- entry 1 + fidēlis "faithful, loyal, trustworthy" — more at fidelity

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of infidel was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near infidel

Cite this Entry

“Infidel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/infidel. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

infidel

noun
in·​fi·​del ˈin-fəd-ᵊl How to pronounce infidel (audio)
-fə-ˌdel
: a person who does not believe in a particular religion
infidel adjective
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