The word "pagan" has its origins in Late Latin, where "paganus" originally meant "villager" or "country dweller." Over time, the term took on religious connotations and came to refer to those who practiced non-Christian or polytheistic religions, particularly in the context of the Roman Empire. The transition from its original meaning to its religious sense likely occurred as Christianity spread and urban areas became more associated with the new faith.
So, picture this: a bunch of ancient city folks pointing at the rural villagers and going, "Look at those country bumpkins! They're not into our cool new religion! Let's call them paganus!" And there you have it – the birth of the word "pagan." It's like the ancient version of calling someone a hipster just because they prefer farming over the latest togas and gladiator fights.