1 of 2

noun (1)

kaf·​ir ˈka-fər How to pronounce kafir (audio)
: a grain sorghum with stout, short-jointed, somewhat juicy stalks, large leaves, and erect heads


2 of 2

noun (2)

Kaf·​ir ˈka-fər How to pronounce Kafir (audio)
plural Kafir or Kafirs
dated, often offensive; see usage paragraph below
Usage of Kafir and Kafiri

The terms Kafir and Kafiri come from Arabic kāfir, meaning "infidel," and allude to the time before the populace of what is now called Nuristan (formerly Kafiristan, in the Hindu Kush in northeastern Afghanistan) was forcibly converted to Islam at the turn of the 20th century. Both Kafir and Kafiri are dated terms and are now often considered offensive; Nuristani is used instead.

Word History


Noun (1)

short for kaffir corn, kafir corn (with kaffir), as translation of early Afrikaans kafferkoring

Noun (2)

Arabic kāfir

First Known Use

Noun (1)

circa 1785, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1834, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kafir was circa 1785

Dictionary Entries Near kafir

Cite this Entry

“Kafir.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kafir. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

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