Etymology: Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god Date: 1546 1 archaic : UNGODLINESS , WICKEDNESS 2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity
unbelief in God or deities: disbelief in the existence of God or deities
[ Late 16th century. Via French from, ultimately, Greek atheos "godless," from theos (see theo- ). ]
American Heritage: 1 a. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. b. The doctrine that there is no God or gods. 2. Godlessness; immorality.
French athéisme , from athée , atheist, from Greek atheos , godless : a- , without; see a- 1 + theos , god;
1. The disbelief or denial of the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being. Atheism is a ferocious system, that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us to awaken tenderness. R. Hall.
Atheism and pantheism are often wrongly confounded. Shipley.
denial of the existence of God or gods and of any supernatural existence, to be distinguished from agnosticism , which holds that the existence cannot be proved. The term atheism has been used as an accusation against all who attack established orthodoxy, as in the trial of Socrates. There were few avowed atheists from classical times until the 19th cent., when popular belief in a conflict between religion and science brought forth preachers of the gospel of atheism, such as Robert G. Ingersoll. There are today many individuals and groups professing atheism. The 20th cent. has seen many individuals and groups professing atheism, including Bertrand Russell and Madalyn Murry O'Hair.
In early Ancient Greek, the adjective atheos (from privative a- + theos "god") meant "godforsaken, abandoned by the gods". The word acquired an additional meaning in the 5th century BCE, expressing total lack of relations with the gods, that is, "denying the gods, godless, ungodly", with more active connotations than asebēs "impious". Modern translations of classical texts sometimes translate atheos as "atheistic". As an abstract noun, there was also atheotēs: "atheism". Cicero transcribed atheos into Latin. The discussion of atheoi was pronounced in the debate between early Christians and pagans, who each attributed atheism to the other.
In English, the term atheism is the result of the adoption of the Frenchathéisme around 1587. The French word is derived from athée "godless, atheist", which in turn is from the Greekatheos. The words deist and theist entered English after atheism, being first attested in 1621 and 1662, respectively, followed by theism and deism in 1678 and 1682, respectively. Due to the influence of atheism, deism and theism exchanged meanings around 1700. Deism was originally used with a meaning comparable to today's theism, and vice-versa.