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pu·​ri·​tan ˈpyu̇r-ə-tən How to pronounce puritan (audio)
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
: one who practices or preaches a more rigorous or professedly purer moral code than that which prevails


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

Example Sentences

Noun Some of the town's puritans still maintain that sex education has no place in the schools.
Recent Examples on the Web
Obviously quitting drinking is not going to turn you into any kind of puritan. Chris Willman, Variety, 18 Jan. 2023 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
Arie Untung, the founder of HijrahFest, said the group was frequently criticized by other Muslims for not being puritan enough. Sui-lee Wee, New York Times, 12 Apr. 2023 But Auden introduced, or tried to, a certain kind of irony into American poetry, even as America was teaching him the revelations of a more puritan, more direct way of being, or of reporting being. Nick Laird, The New York Review of Books, 16 Mar. 2023 Raised by rope, flames engulfing her sights, a priest holds a puritan porcelain doll taunting the familiar promise of a story involving wrongfully accused witches and judicial skullduggery — an early narrative fakeout. Robert Daniels, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2021 Few people are puritan enough to forgo all of life's pleasures, not even a quiet drink or a hot bath. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 2 Jan. 2011 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 See More

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

Word History



probably from Late Latin puritas purity

First Known Use


1572, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of puritan was in 1572

Dictionary Entries Near puritan

Cite this Entry

“Puritan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puritan. Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


capitalized : a member of a 16th and 17th century Protestant group in England and New England opposing many customs of the Church of England
: one who practices or preaches a stricter moral code than is generally followed
puritan adjective often capitalized
noun often capitalized

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