1530s, from Latin dissidentem (nominative dissidens), present participle of dissidere "to be remote; disagree, be removed from," literally "to sit apart," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + sedere "to sit," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit."
1766, in reference to Protestants, from dissident (adj.). In the political sense first used 1940, coinciding with the rise of 20c. totalitarian systems, especially with reference to the Soviet Union.
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