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Someone with a not-so-neutral POV seems to have it out for this entry. Is it OK to revert back to Ruakh's June 2007 version of this page? --Connel MacKenzie 20:38, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Actually, I believe this much better reflect actual usage: only Abrahamic religions (particularly the proselytic branches) really made any significant use of the word AFAIK, although there is still room for improvement; "not believing in god" is at best improper: for several centuries the Arabs were called "heathens" (besides, atheist are usually called "heretics", not heathens). This entry will probably need several obsolete defs to account for the range of meanings historically ascribed to it though. Circeus 21:44, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
For comparison, Merriam Webster online has "an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible". Circeus 21:46, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

It seems very inappropriate to have 'heathen' as derogitory in the sense of not Abrahamic. The second meaning of the word already covers its usage as an insult. Thorskegga 11:32, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Clocked out. Not cited. DCDuring TALK 20:47, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Noun pluralEdit

Currently: "heathen (plural heathen or heathens)" -- I'm not sure the plural form is "heathen" exactly. It's only used together with the definite article, "the heathen" to refer to the group of all heathens. Example: "They first set out to convert the heathen."

It's similar to other commonly generalised nouns like "the American", "the infidel", or "the Negro", none of which articles feature the singular as an alternative plural. I'm going to be bold and edit this. Nossidge (talk) 14:13, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
In this sense it was used as an adjective made into a noun, such as the poor, the good, etc. which are also plural forms. I believe this was used in the same way, and later the plural with the s developed as a way to make it more clear that it was plural, since the -en plural in English had mostly disappeared and was not recognized as a plural. The n ending (of the singular) was not original to the word. Someone with more information might want to check over this. 22:44, 12 October 2015 (UTC)
I'm putting this back up. The plurals "American" and "Negro" are uncommon; I'm not sure they exist. The unchanged plural "infidel" seems also rather rare, but it should be added as an alternative form. The point is this: Plurals like "the poor", "the meek", etc., are nominalised adjectives; but these forms are special in that they need the definite article and that they cannot be singular. Neither is true for "heathen". You can say "a heathen", but you can also say -- and that's where you're wrong -- "two heathen", "many heathen", etc. It's an actual plural of the noun "heathen", just as Chinese is an actual plural.
Return to "heathen" page.