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  1. Of persons, their actions, etc.: Full of or characterized by FAITH (sense 3); believing. Obs. exc. absol.: see 7.

a1300 Cursor M. 5348 (Cott.) Faithful abraham. 1542 BECON Pathw. Prayer Wks. 141 Inflame..mens hearts with the love of faithful prayer. a1555 LATIMER Serm. & Rem. (1845) 155 The poor faithful man is more sure of his living, than if he had the same in his chest. 1610 B. JONSON Alch. II. i, You are not faithfull, sir. This night, I'll change All, that is mettall, in thy house, to gold. 1611 BIBLE Gal. iii. 9 Faithful Abraham. 1759 DILWORTH Pope 66 He saw no..difficulty for a faithful mind to believe the trinity.

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  1. a. Firm in fidelity or allegiance to a person to whom one is bound by any tie; constant, loyal, true. Const. to.

a1300 Cursor M. 19799 (Cott.) {Th}air he fand a faithful frend. c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. (1810) 307 So faithfulle {th}ei bisemed Bo{th}e erles and barons. 1393 LANGL. P. Pl. C. II. 15 To be faith-ful to hym he {ygh}aue {ygh}ow fyue wittes. c1440 York Myst. xxxii. 221 Full faithfull schall {ygh}e fynde me. 1576 FLEMING Panopl. Epist. 162 The chiefest and faythfullest of your favourers. 1639 DUKE OF HAMILTON in H. Papers (Camden) 104 My cariage..such as became your faithfullst servant. 1722 SEWEL Hist. Quakers (1795) I. Let. to King 4 No small part of his faithful subjects. 1727 DE FOE Syst. Magic I. iii. (1840) 80 [They] vowed themselves to be his faithful allies. 1732 POPE Ess. Man I. 112 His faithful dog shall bear him company. 1832 H. MARTINEAU Demerara iii. 35 Be faithful to your master. 1856 GRINDON Life ii. (1875) 13 We faithful to His revealed law.

b. transf. of things.

1651 tr. Bacon's Life & Death 51 The Remedies faithfull to the Intentions. 1697 DRYDEN Virg. Georg. II. 762 His faithful Bed is crown'd with chaste Delight. 1784 COWPER Task III. 8 A greensward smooth And faithful to the foot. 1828 SCOTT F.M. Perth xxxii, Whose hand was faithful to his sword.

  1. a. True to one's word or professed belief; abiding by a covenant or promise, steadfast. Const. to.

c1400 MANDEVILLE (1839) xii. 139 Ffor the sarazines ben gode and fey{th}fulle, ffor thei kepen entierly the commaundement of the holy book Alkoran. 1594 T. B. La Primaud. Fr. Acad. II. 187 God is so often..called faithfull..because Hee neuer falsifieth His faith. 1611 BIBLE Deut. vii. 9 The faithfull God, which keepeth Couenant and Mercy with them that loue him. 1690 DRYDEN Don Sebast. v. 114 Naturally good, And faithfull to his word. 1841 LANE Arab. Nts. I. 100 Are ye remaining faithful to your covenant?

b. Of a covenant, promise, etc.: Containing a pledge of fidelity, binding.

c1425 WYNTOUN Cron. VIII. xii. 59 Bwndyn..wyth faythful Band To succoure {th}e Fredwme of Scotland. a1533 LD. BERNERS Huon xlviii. 162, I haue made a faythfull vow. 1601 SHAKES. Twel. N. V. i. 117 The faithfull'st offrings..That ere deuotion tender'd. a1817 JANE AUSTEN Northang. Abb. (1818) II. ix. 180 ‘Isabella promised so faithfully to write directly.’ ‘Promised so faithfully!{em}A faithful promise!{em}That puzzles me.{em}I have heard of a faithful performance. But a faithful promise{em}the fidelity of promising!’

  1. a. Of persons and their conduct: Conscientious, thorough in the fulfilment of duty.

c1350 Will. Palerne 337 Be fei{ygh}tful & fre & euer of faire speche. 1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. VI. 253 {Th}e freke {th}at fedeth hym-self With his feythful laboure. 1529 MORE Dyaloge III. Wks. 238/2 So faythfull a prince. 1851 CARLYLE Sterling III. ii. (1872) 180 Faithful assiduous studies. 1892 Law Times XCII. 144/2 The faithful and conscientious discharge of his duties.

b. Often used (? after Prov. xxvi. 6) with reference to the duty of telling unwelcome truths or giving unwelcome counsel. Chiefly colloq.

1655 STANLEY Hist. Philos. I. II. v. 17 Think not those faithful who praise all thy..actions, but those who reprove thy faults.

  1. Of persons and their actions: That may be believed or relied upon; trustworthy, veracious. {dag}Also, of things: Reliable.

1340-70 Alex. & Dind. 65, I haue founde {ygh}ou folk fai{th}ful of speche. 1393 LANGL. P. Pl. C. XIX. 141 Suche a surgeyn setthen yseye was {th}er neuere, Ne non so faithfol fysician. 1611 BIBLE Ps. cxix. 138 Thy testimonies..are..very faithfull. 1678 PRIDEAUX Lett. (Camden) 65 The faithfullest relators..are the Grecians. 1742 FIELDING J. Andrews II. xvii, Unless I had much faithfuller interest, [he] advised me to give over my pretensions. 1814 SCOTT Wav. iii, Memoirs scarcely more faithful than romances. 1891 M. E. WILKINS Humble Romance 280 Her husband..did the cooking, and he was as faithful at it as a woman!

  1. True to the fact or original, accurate.

1529 MORE Dyaloge III. Wks. 241/1 Any good verteous man hath hadde the mynde in faithful wise to translate it. 1660 H. MORE Myst. Godl. V. xvii. 211 This is the faithfullest Account that I can give. 1709 POPE Ess. Crit. 484 When the faithful pencil has design'd Some bright Idea of the master's mind. 1749 FIELDING Tom Jones I. vi, Mrs. Deborah..made a faithful report. 1781 COWPER Truth 161 In faithful memory she records the crimes. 1809-10 COLERIDGE Friend (1865) 59 A faithful catalogue of its many miseries! 1841 MYERS Cath. Th. III. §42. 159 The Latin, though..more faithful than the Septuagint, is far from being perfect. 1857 H. MILLER Test. Rocks iii. 153 We pronounce the map..a faithful copy.

  1. absol. Chiefly pl. a. In sense 1 (but with some notion of 2, 3): ‘True believers’; the believing members of the church; the orthodox of any religious community. Often as transl. Arab. al-m{umac}min{umac}n (genit. -{imac}n), the designation given by Muslims to those of their own faith.
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father of the faithful (after Rom. iv. 11): Abraham. Commander or Father of the Faithful: titles applied by Muslims to the Caliph. 1558 BP. WATSON Sev. Sacram. xv. 95 Hee was one of the number of the faithfull and familiars with Christ. 1563 J. MAN tr. Musculus' Commonpl. 275 The giuen unto the faithful only. 1597 HOOKER Eccl. Pol. V. xliv. (1611) 275 The faithfull which departed this life before the comming of Christ. 1609 BIBLE (Douay) Hist. Table II. 1073 Seths children and other faythful were called the sonnes of God. 1635 E. PAGITT Christianogr. I. iii. (1636) 102 We beleeve the faithfull to eate Christs body. a1711 KEN Hymnotheo Wks. 1721 III. 77 The Faithful, who retrieve baptismal Flame. 1753 CHAMBERS Cycl. Supp., Faithful, a designation the mahometans assume to themselves. 1782 PRIESTLEY Corrupt. Chr. II. VI. 14 The faithful received the eucharist every Lord's day. 1840 Comic Almanac (Hotten) I. 248 The Sultan of Turkey..the Father of the Faithful. 1841 LANE Arab. Nts. I. 71 Another custom required of the faithful on this festival is the giving of alms. 1846 Edin. Rev. LXXXIV. 68 The Commander of the Faithful the tomb of the Prophet. 1848 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. I. 159 A communion service at which the faithful might sit. Ibid. 555 Sufficient evidence that he was not one of the faithful [the covenanters].

b. transf. as a slang term for drunkards.

1609 W. M. Man in Moon B3/2 One of the faithfull, as they prophanely terme him..he will drinke many degrees beyond a Dutchman.

c. The loyal adherents of a political party. Freq. with defining word, as party (Tory, etc.) faithful.

1961 in WEBSTER. 1965 A. J. P. TAYLOR Eng. Hist. 1914-1945 viii. 264 The I.L.P. had only contributions from the faithful. 1976 Scotsman 20 Nov. 8/1 The Shadow Chancellor, whose failure to exploit the Government's groggy condition has dismayed the Tory faithful. 1986 Spectator 13 Sept. 16/2 Both [are] a heavy liability for the party faithful trudging the by-election doorsteps.

  1. Comb., as faithful-hearted.

1925 J. GREGORY Bab of Backwoods xix. 244 Faithful~hearted retainer.


adv. = FAITHFULLY. Obs. in educated use.

1556 Aurelio & Isab. (1608) Avj, I love her..faythfuller then you. 1645 MILTON Tetrach. Wks. 1738 I. 233 To see Covenants of greatest moment faithfullest perform'd. 1651 SIR E. NICHOLAS in N. Papers (Camden) 216, I doe faithfull promise and ingage myselfe that [etc.].


as n. A faithful person. a. A true believer, one of ‘the faithful’. b. A trusty adherent.

a. 1571 HANMER Chron. Irel. (1633) 54 What faithfull soever being penitent, shall bee buried there. 1588 A. KING tr. Canisius' Catech. 15 No work of godlines suld be æstemit of ane trew faithful hard. 1849 CARD. WISEMAN Miracles N.T. Essays 1853 I. 188 Nor is there reason to suppose, that every simple faithful was a Thaumaturgus. b. 1648 British Bell-man 2 Whilest the King and his Faithfuls retained their Places of Dominion. Ibid. 4 Your out-cries against those his [the king's] old faithfulls. 1890 H. M. STANLEY Darkest Africa II. p. xiii, The Faithfuls at Zanzibar.