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I am asking this question because of this

It seems that "unbeliever" can be used for a person "who does not believe" whereas "disbeliever" can be used for a person "who is presented and rejected". The prefix "dis" can be used for rejection (compared to the prefix "un" which can be used for "not" without rejection). So "disbelieve" seems to imply "making a conscious decision" to reject/dismiss something.

How correct is above explanation. Can someone explain in more detail what is, if any, the difference between those two words?

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I am unfamiliar with 'disbeliever', it sounds like what was meant was 'unbeliever'. Of course M-W has it as well as the other on-line dictionaries, and they don't give an indication as to how common or recognized it is. It might be domain specific language, and so better to ask for clarification there. –  Mitch Aug 14 '12 at 12:57

2 Answers 2

That seems a reasonable definition. Unbeliever or non-believer is someone who is outside the faith, either by choice or because they haven't been told. Disbeliever implies a deliberate and definite rejection of the belief.

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This would be a reasonable definition in a scientific or generalised philosophical context, but unfortunately religion, where shades of meaning can be vital enough to cause wars, has developed specialised terms. A non-believer is simply somebody who does not share the faith under discussion. An unbeliever, as I understand it, is somebody who has had the chance to believe, but rejected it. An infidel is somebody who follows another faith; both these last two are disparaging, at best. ?Disbeliever is not in common use, because so much would depend on exactly what has been rejected. Rejecting a tradition peripheral to the religion might make you a reformer, unusual but orthodox or perhaps a member of a different sect or denomination; rejecting important dogma might make you a heretic (somebody calling himself a [Muslim, here] but actually not), and it is not objectively clear (at least in a linguistic context) which is which.

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Disbeliever is not in common use Agreed. I've never heard of someone being labelled as a "disbeliever". –  Bob Aug 14 '12 at 12:21
@Bob, it is used by translators of Quran. Arabic is more refined regarding these concepts, the difference between nonbeliever and disbeliever is important from Islamic perspective. –  Kaveh Aug 16 '12 at 5:59

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