in·​fi·​del | \ ˈin-fə-dᵊl How to pronounce infidel (audio) , -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

Oh God, reward the fighters hitting the infidels and defectors. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Osama bin Laden’s son, the “Crown Prince of Terror,” is dead. Or is he?," 1 Aug. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: 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, "How the Saudis Can Promote Moderate Islam," 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, "ISIS Leader Who Approved Sex Slaves Killed By U.S. Airstrike," 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, "Surviving the Fall of ISIS," 17 Oct. 2016

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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Statistics for infidel

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

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

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English Language Learners Definition of infidel

disapproving : a person who does not believe in a religion that someone regards as the true religion


in·​fi·​del | \ ˈin-fə-dᵊl How to pronounce infidel (audio) , -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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readily or continually undergoing change

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