in·​fi·​del | \ ˈin-fə-dᵊl, -fə-ˌdel\

Definition of infidel 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity
2a : an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion
b : one who acknowledges no religious belief
3 : a disbeliever in something specified or understood



Definition of infidel (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Examples of infidel in a Sentence


a holy war against the infidels

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sunni extremists consider non-Muslims infidels who deserve to be killed. Washington Post, "Tough road for Iraq’s female candidates in May 12 elections," 5 May 2018 These lessons often describe Christians and other non-Muslim groups as infidels, thereby influencing young people’s views of faith and ultimately helping extremists recruit terrorists to commit horrendous acts against non-Muslim civilians. 4. Issam Smeir, Washington Post, "Why Pence should listen to Christians in the Middle East, not just in the Bible Belt," 22 Jan. 2018 After years of abuse, some have embraced Islam and denounced their own people as infidels. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "Nisreen’s Choice: Women Rescued From Islamic State Are Told to Leave Children Behind," 23 Aug. 2018 Even there, respect is hard to find, with wedding guests whispering behind the musicians’ backs, accusing them of being pimps and infidels because over the years of war people started believing music is prohibited in Islam. Maija Liuhto, Longreads, "A Music So Beautiful the Birds Fell from the Trees," 28 June 2018 My mom was also happy to shed her role as neighborhood infidel. Sara Eckel, Longreads, "The Hole in My Soul," 1 June 2018 Sunni extremists consider non-Muslims infidels who deserve to be killed. Ali Abdul-hassan And Sinan Salaheddin, The Christian Science Monitor, "Despite challenges, Iraq's female candidates run for parliament," 3 May 2018 In confronting that Cold War threat, the U.S. made what turned out to be a shortsighted move: fighting the Russians by encouraging Muslims to embrace a war against the infidels. Karl Vick, Time, "The Saudi Crown Prince Thinks He Can Transform the Middle East. Should We Believe Him?," 5 Apr. 2018 But rather than confronting Sufi adherents with threats, insults, violence or denouncing them as kafirs, infidels, like many Salafis have done in Libya and Egypt, Trabelsi instead tries to politely counter their arguments with scripture. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "How Tunisia's resilient Sufis have withstood hard-line Islamist attack," 8 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

One user said four men were coming to kill him, while others called him an infidel or an atheist, a potentially fatal accusation in a conservative Muslim country., "Afghan Child Named Donald Trump Proves Divisive," 15 Mar. 2018 He was sold to a man that Said would describe as cruel and a kafir, or infidel. Peter Manseau, Smithsonian, "Why Thomas Jefferson Owned a Qur’an," 31 Jan. 2018 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, "How the Saudis Can Promote Moderate Islam," 3 Aug. 2017 Mr Shihab has denounced Mr Cornelis as a kafir, or infidel. The Economist, "Borneo againIndonesian Islamists open a new front in their war on tolerance," 20 July 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, "ISIS Leader Who Approved Sex Slaves Killed By U.S. Airstrike," 2 June 2017 There were female jailers who beat and cursed her and called her an infidel. Robert F. Worth, New York Times, "Aleppo After the Fall," 24 May 2017 When Christendom launched the Crusades, the holy wars that shaped Europe, in the eleventh century, Jews were the paradigmatic enemy inside (the infidel near at hand), and Muslims became the defining enemy outside (the infidel far away). James Carroll, The New Yorker, "What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism," 23 Feb. 2017 By the time of the Hispaniola revolt, Spanish authorities had already forbidden travel by any infidel, whether Muslim, Jewish, or Protestant, to its New World colonies, which at the time included the land that is now the United States. Andrew Lawler, Smithsonian, "Muslims Were Banned From the Americas as Early as the 16th Century," 7 Feb. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of infidel


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for infidel


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


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

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

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

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More Definitions for infidel


in·​fi·​del | \ ˈin-fə-dᵊl, -fə-ˌdel\

Kids Definition of infidel

: a person who does not believe in a certain religion

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More from Merriam-Webster on infidel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for infidel

Spanish Central: Translation of infidel

Nglish: Translation of infidel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of infidel for Arabic Speakers

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