from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A member of a group of English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries advocated strict religious discipline along with simplification of the ceremonies and creeds of the Church of England.
  • n. One who lives in accordance with Protestant precepts, especially one who regards pleasure or luxury as sinful.
  • adj. Of or relating to the Puritans or Puritanism.
  • adj. Characteristic of a puritan; puritanical.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A member of a particular Protestant religious sect.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the Puritans; resembling, or characteristic of, the Puritans.
  • n. One who, in the time of Queen Elizabeth and the first two Stuarts, opposed traditional and formal usages, and advocated simpler forms of faith and worship than those established by law; -- originally, a term of reproach. The Puritans formed the bulk of the early population of New England.
  • n. One who is scrupulous and strict in his religious life; -- often used reproachfully or in contempt; one who has overstrict notions.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who is very strict and serious in his religious life, or who pretends to great purity of life: first used about 1564, and applied to certain Anabaptists: frequently a term of contempt.
  • n. [capitalized] One of a class of Protestants which arose in England in the sixteenth century.
  • n. Synonyms Puritan, Pilgrim. Careful distinction should be made between the Pilgrims or Pilgrim Fathers, who settled at Plymouth in 1620, and the Puritans, who in 1628–30 founded the colony of Massachusetts Bay at Salem and Boston.
  • [capitalized] Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the Puritans.
  • Synonyms Puritan, Puritanic. Puritanic (or puritanical) is now generally used in a depreciative sense; Puritan in a commendatory or a neutral sense.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a member of a group of English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries thought that the Protestant Reformation under Elizabeth was incomplete and advocated the simplification and regulation of forms of worship
  • n. a person excessively concerned about propriety and decorum
  • n. someone who adheres to strict religious principles; someone opposed to sensual pleasures


From Late Latin pūritās, purity (on the model of Medieval Latin Kathari, "the Pure Ones,” a third-century sect of rigorist heretics), from Latin pūrus, pure; see peuə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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