At some point the word "faith" took on an extra meaning to indicate any religious belief. As an example, "She is of the Bahá'í faith". When did this happen? In particular, when was it first applied to non-Christians?

I have searched online but have not found an answer yet.

1 Answer 1


The religious meaning is from the mid 14th century:


Since mid-14c. in reference to the Christian church or religion; from late 14c. in reference to any religious persuasion.

  • And faith is neither the submission of the reason, nor is it the acceptance, simply and absolutely upon testimony, of what reason cannot reach. Faith is: the being able to cleave to a power of goodness appealing to our higher and real self, not to our lower and apparent self. [Matthew Arnold, "Literature & Dogma," 1873]
  • Do you know when it was first applied to non-Christians?
    – Simd
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 12:42
  • @Lembik - it is in the link, from the late 14th century
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 12:43
  • Interestingly, google ngrams claims no uses before the 20th century of "islamic faith" and not much before 1950.
    – Simd
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 12:48
  • 2
    @Lembik - there are actually earlier usages (1834) books.google.it/… - (1857) books.google.it/…
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 12:53

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