Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English ydolatrer, from Middle French idolatre, from Latin idololatra.[1] Displaced native Old English dēofolġielda (literally devil worshiper).



idolater (plural idolaters) (female idolatress)

  1. One who worships idols; (historical) a pagan.
    • 1597, Richard Hooker, “Their pretenſe that would haue Churches vtterly razed”, in J[ohn] S[penser], editor, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], 2nd edition, London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, book V, page 209:
      [T]he state of idolaters is two ways miserable: first, in that which they worship they find no succour; and secondly, at his hands, whom they ought to serve, there is no other thing to be looked for but the effects of most just displeasure, the withdrawing of grace, dereliction in this world, and in the world to come confusion.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, 1 Corinthians 5:9-12:
      I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 46, in The History of Pendennis. [], volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      You who can smash the idols, do so with a good courage; but do not be too fierce with the idolaters,—they worship the best thing they know.

Related termsEdit