One that forms opinions on the basis of reason, independent of authority; especially one who doubts or denies religious dogma. According to Webster's, the term first popped up in 1692.

Freethinker, a name often assumed by those who, disbelieving in revelation, feel themselves free to adopt any opinion in religious or other matters which may result from their own independent thinking. The name was specially claimed by those who in the 17th and 18th centuries took part on the anti-Christian side in the deistic controversy.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Free"think`er (?), n.

One who speculates or forms opinions independently of the authority of others; esp., in the sphere or religion, one who forms opinions independently of the authority of revelation or of the church; an unbeliever; -- a term assumed by deists and skeptics in the eighteenth century.

Atheist is an old-fashioned word: I'm a freethinker, child. Addison.

Syn. -- Infidel; skeptic; unbeliever. See Infidel.


© Webster 1913.

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