1. One who behaves badly, often by breaking rules of conduct or the law.
2. Archaic One who does not believe in a certain religion; an infidel or heretic.
[Middle English miscreaunt, heretic, from Old French mescreant, present participle of mescroire, to disbelieve : mes-, wrongly, not; see MIS-1 + croire, to believe (from Latin crēdere; see kerd- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.