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

Examples of infidel in a Sentence

Noun a holy war against the infidels
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In 1935, Pope Pius XI openly supported the invasion of Ethiopia as a crusade against a country of heretics, schismatics, pagans, and infidels. Ian Campbell, Foreign Affairs, 22 Feb. 2022 View Photos The 940 series, sedan and wagons, will give Volvo a fresh set of foils with which to fend off the growing number of infidels storming the barricades of the $30,000-sedan empire. William Jeanes, Car and Driver, 27 June 2023 What’s surprising about The Covenant is that the usual gung-ho American military bravery is mostly downplayed to focus on the strategic backup provided by on-the-ground interpreters, who risked being branded as infidels, ostracized by their compatriots and tagged for Taliban reprisals. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Apr. 2023 When one follower demonstrated logically the existence of irrational numbers—numbers that cannot be expressed as a fraction, and that continue on indefinitely when expressed in decimals—the Pythagoreans are said to have taken the infidel out on a boat and tossed him overboard. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 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 An illustration in a 13th-century German psalter, for example, shows a Christian angel using a sword to force infidels into the gate of hell, represented as a monster with a gaping, flaming mouth. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, 1 Sep. 2019
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 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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'infidel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 12 Apr. 2024.

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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