The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A Gentile refers to a non-Israelite; the word is derived from the Latin term gens (meaning "clan" or a "group of families") and is often employed in the plural. Christian translators of the Bible use this word to collectively designate the peoples and nations distinct from the Israelite people; the word is used that way over 130 times in the King James Version of the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. From the 17th century on this term was most commonly used to refer to non-Jews. In recent decades this use of the term has somewhat fallen out of favour, and "non-Jew" is typically used as a substitute.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who regard themselves as regathered formerly-lost Israelites, have also used the word "Gentile" to refer to those they view as non-Israelites. As such, this word is not appropriately applied to Jews, although LDS members often colloquially referred to Jews as "Gentiles" because they were not members of the LDS Church. As with the more general usage, the word "Gentile" has fallen out of favour among younger LDS members (being regarded as antiquated and unnecessarily pejorative), and the more neutral term "non-Mormon" is now more frequently used. Even this term is increasingly considered disrespectful, prompting many LDS to abandon "non-Mormon" altogether and simply use the term "neighbor", thus departing completely from labels of religious distinction out of an attempt to instead emphasize neighborly love. See also Mormonism and Judaism.

The term has sometimes been used in the past as a synonym for heathen or pagan; this usage is archaic.

In Basque mythology , jentilak are giants who lived before Christianization and built dolmens and menhirs. (Jentilarriak, i.e., "Gentile stones"). Olentzero is the only one still alive.

See also

Last updated: 02-05-2005 08:20:36
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55