"human being, descendant of Adam" the Biblical first man, 1630s, from Adam + -ite (1). Used from 1620s in reference to perfectionist sects or groups that practice nudism (or, as a 1657 poem has it, "Cast off their petticoats and breeches"), recalling the state of Adam before the Fall. They sprang up 2c. in North Africa, 14c.-15c. in central Europe, and occasionally elsewhere since. Related: Adamic; Adamitic; Adamitism.
updated on October 28, 2016