AskDefine | Define ranter

Dictionary Definition

ranter n : someone who rants and raves; speaks in a violent or loud manner [syn: raver]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One who rants; a noisy, boisterous speaker or declaimer, applied opprobriously to various religious speakers.

Extensive Definition

The Ranters were a radical English sect in the time of the Commonwealth, who were regarded as heretical by the established Church of that period. Their central idea was pantheistic, that God is essentially in every creature; this led them to deny the authority of the Church, of scripture, of the current ministry and of services, instead calling on men to hearken to Jesus within them. Many Ranters seem to have rejected a belief in immortality and in a personal God, and in many ways they resemble the Brethren of the Free Spirit in the 14th century. Though they were not particularly organized and had no leader, their most infamous member was Laurence Clarkson. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.
They seem to have been regarded by the government of the time as a genuine threat to social order. Ranters were often associated with nudity, which they may have used as a manner of social protest as well as religious expression as a symbol of abandoning earthly goods. Ranters were accused of antinomianism, fanaticism, and sexual immorality, and put in prison until they recanted.
The Ranters were largely recruited from the common people, and there is plenty of evidence to show that the movement was widespread throughout England. They came into contact and even rivalry with the early Quakers, who were often falsely accused of direct association with them. George Fox stated that most of the Ranters were converted to Quakerism at the time of the Restoration.
In the middle of the 19th century the name was often applied to the Primitive Methodists, with reference to their crude and often noisy preaching.
More recently, the historian J. C. Davis has suggested that the Ranters did not exist at all. According to Davis, the Ranters were a myth created by conservatives in order to endorse traditional values by comparison with an unimaginably radical other. Though other historians have expressed doubts, Davis has been at least partially persuasive; Richard L. Greaves, in a review of Davis's book, suggests that though a very radical fringe existed, it was probably never as organized as conservatives of the time suggested.


  • Greaves, Richard L. Review of J.C. Davis, Fear, Myth and History: The Ranters and Their Historians, (Cambridge UP, 1986). Church History, Vol. 57, No. 3. (Sep., 1988), pp. 376-378.
  • Grant, Linda. (1994). Sexing the Millennium: Women and the Sexual Revolution. Grove Press. pp. 19-25. ISBN 0802133495
ranter in Portuguese: Ranters

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Herod, Holy Willie, Joseph Surface, Mawworm, Pecksniff, Pharisee, Tartuffe, affecter, blatherskite, bluff, bluffer, blusterer, braggart, bravo, bucko, bully, bullyboy, canter, canting hypocrite, debater, declaimer, demagogue, dissembler, dissimulator, fanfaron, formalist, haranguer, hector, hectorer, hypocrite, jawsmith, lip server, lip worshiper, panelist, pharisee, pietist, pious fraud, poser, public speaker, rabble-rouser, raver, religionist, religious hypocrite, roisterer, sniveler, snuffler, speaker, speecher, speechifier, speechmaker, spieler, spiritual humbug, spokesman, spokeswoman, spouter, swaggerer, swashbuckler, swasher, talker, tub-thumper, vaporer, whited sepulcher
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