Or see dissent.

The term dissenter (from the Latin dissentire, “to disagree”), labels one who disagrees in matters of opinion, belief, etc. In the social and religious history of England and Wales, however, it refers particularly to a member of a religious body who has, for one reason or another, separated from the Established Church.[1]

Originally, the term included English and Welsh Roman Catholics[1] whom the original draft of the Nonconformist Relief Act 1779 styled "Protesting Catholic Dissenters." In practice, however, it designates Protestant Dissenters referred to in sec. ii. of the Act of Toleration of 1689 (see English Dissenters.)

The term does not apply to those bodies who dissent from the Established Church of Scotland; and in speaking of members of religious bodies which have seceded from established churches outside Britain one usually employs the term "dissidents" (from the Latin dissidere, “to dissent”). In this connotation the terms "dissenter" and "dissenting," which had acquired a somewhat contemptuous flavour, have tended since the middle of the 18th century to be replaced by "nonconformist," a term which did not originally imply secession, but only refusal to conform in certain particulars (for example the wearing of the surplice) with the authorized usages of the Established Church.[1]

Still more recently the term "nonconformist" has in its turn, as the political attack on the principle of a state establishment of religion developed, tended to give place to the style of “Free Churches” and “Free Churchman.” All three terms continue in use, “nonconformist” being the most usual, as it is the most colourless.

See also

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


  1. ^ a b c Cross, FL; Livingstone, EA, eds. (March 13, 1997), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.), USA: Oxford University Press, p. 490 .

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dissenter — Dis*sent er, n. 1. One who dissents; one who differs in opinion, or declares his disagreement. [1913 Webster] 2. (Eccl.) One who separates from the service and worship of an established church; especially, one who disputes the authority or tenets …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dissenter — index disputant, heretic, malcontent Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 dissenter …   Law dictionary

  • dissenter — ► NOUN 1) a person who dissents. 2) (Dissenter) Brit. historical a member of a non established Church; a Nonconformist …   English terms dictionary

  • dissenter — 1630s, in 17c. especially of religions (with a capital D from 1670s); agent noun from DISSENT (Cf. dissent) …   Etymology dictionary

  • dissenter — nonconformist, sectarian, sectary, schismatic, *heretic …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • dissenter — [di sent′ər] n. 1. a person who dissents 2. [sometimes D ] a British Protestant who does not belong to the Anglican Church; Nonconformist …   English World dictionary

  • Dissenter — Unter Dissenter (lat. dissentire ≈ abweichen) versteht man besonders in der Kirchengeschichte von England und Wales Mitglieder einer kirchlichen Gemeinde, die sich ihrer abweichenden Meinung wegen von der Amtskirche getrennt haben.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • dissenter — UK [dɪˈsentə(r)] / US [dɪˈsentər] noun [countable] Word forms dissenter : singular dissenter plural dissenters someone who strongly disagrees with something …   English dictionary

  • Dissenter — Dis|sẹn|ter 〈m. 6; Rel.; in England〉 nicht der anglikanischen Staatskirche angehörender Protestant; Sy Dissident (2), Nonkonformist (2); Ggs Konformist (2) [engl.] * * * Dis|sẹn|ter, der; s, s [engl. dissenter, zu: to dissent = von der… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • dissenter — (di ssin teur) s. m. Mot anglais qui signifie non conformiste, ne reconnaissant pas la religion anglicane. •   Un vicaire, un dissenter assiégent leurs derniers moments [des Anglais], VOLT. Phil. II, 238.    Au plur. Des dissenters. ÉTYMOLOGIE… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

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