Gnostic \NOS-tik\ , adjective;
1. Pertaining to knowledge
2. Possessing knowledge, especially esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters
3. Capitalized: Pertaining to or characteristic of the Gnostics
1. Capitalized: A member of any certain sects among the early Christians who claimed to have superior knowledge of spiritual matters, and explained the world as created by powers or agencies arising as emanations from the Godhead
The adjective gnostic dates to the 1650's from Greek gnostikos ("knowing, able to discern"), which derives from gnostos ("known, perceived, understood") from gignoskein ("to learn, to come to know").
The noun Gnostic dates to the 1580's as "believer in a mystical religious doctrine of spiritual knowledge." This version ultimately comes from the same Greek words as the later adjective, but it was actually borrowed from Late Latin Gnosticus. It applied to various early Christian sects that claimed direct personal knowledge beyond the Gospel or Church hierarchy. Agnostic, as "one who professes that the existence of a First Cause and the essential nature of things are not and cannot be known" was coined in 1870 by the author T.H. Huxley.