pu·​ri·​tan | \ ˈpyu̇r-ə-tən How to pronounce puritan (audio) \

Definition of puritan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 capitalized : a member of a 16th and 17th century Protestant group in England and New England opposing as unscriptural the ceremonial worship and the prelacy of the Church of England
2 : one who practices or preaches a more rigorous or professedly purer moral code than that which prevails


adjective, often capitalized

Definition of puritan (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to puritans, the Puritans, or puritanism

Synonyms & Antonyms for puritan

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of puritan in a Sentence

Noun Some of the town's puritans still maintain that sex education has no place in the schools.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Across much of Europe, Merkel—that Protestant minister’s daughter—is resented as a rigid, self-righteous puritan, while support for the E.U. has fallen to historic lows. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 John Winthrop was an English puritan and one of the leading figures in founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the second major settlement in New England following Plymouth Colony. The Rev. Mike Taylor, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, 12 Sep. 2020 Instead of living in fear of office puritans, aim to delight them. Jacob Brogan, chicagotribune.com, 4 Oct. 2019 The sometimes austere looks at times summoned images or elements of puritans, nuns, and schoolmarms — all with a subversive fashion edge. Colleen Barry, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Sep. 2019 In the 17th century, the pies were rejected by British puritans as decadent, hedonistic and inherently Catholic. Leo Hornak, USA TODAY, 19 Dec. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective American to-do behavior has a deeply puritan streak. Clive Thompson, Wired, 27 July 2021 Sabbatarianism—the notion that the law must uphold Sunday as a day of rest and worship—was taken for granted in colonial America, as much in the supposedly more secular Virginia as in puritan New England. Sohrab Ahmari, WSJ, 7 May 2021 The British royal family have great opulence, art, and taste, but there's a sort of puritan restraint about English decoration. Louis Cheslaw, Condé Nast Traveler, 8 Nov. 2019 The mistresses were at times elegant, dressed in plunging gold lame tops with a corresponding deep-V slit in the accompanying leather skirt and at times kinky - puritan collars on a dark robe with sheer sleeves and chain detailing. Colleen Barry, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Sep. 2019 That law has gone long unenforced when the play begins, so the enigmatic Duke of Vienna (Scott Shepherd) decides to step aside and put the merciless puritan Angelo (Pete Simpson) in charge. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 10 Oct. 2017 Sales of spirits have been robust in recent years, even as consumption of wine and beer has fallen in many countries, but millennial shoppers sound increasingly puritan. The Economist, 5 Oct. 2017 During that period, known as the Interregnum, Oliver Cromwell and others led a series of republican governments and promoted puritan moral standards. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 13 June 2017 Fusco illustrates it by photographing birds and animals that hardly anyone ever sees — indeed, often creatures that few have ever heard of, like puritan tiger beetles and bristle-thighed curlews. David Holahan, courant.com, 21 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puritan.' 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 puritan


1572, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for puritan


probably from Late Latin puritas purity

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The first known use of puritan was in 1572

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Dictionary Entries Near puritan



puritan father

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Cite this Entry

“Puritan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puritan. Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for puritan



English Language Learners Definition of puritan

: a member of a Protestant group in England and New England in the 16th and 17th centuries that opposed many customs of the Church of England
: a person who follows strict moral rules and who believes that pleasure is wrong


pu·​ri·​tan | \ ˈpyu̇r-ə-tᵊn How to pronounce puritan (audio) \

Kids Definition of puritan

1 capitalized : a member of a 16th and 17th century Protestant group in England and New England opposing formal customs of the Church of England
2 : a person who practices, preaches, or follows a stricter moral code than most people

More from Merriam-Webster on puritan

Nglish: Translation of puritan for Spanish Speakers


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