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[sek-yuh-ler] /ˈsɛk yə lər/
of or relating to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal:
secular interests.
not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred):
secular music.
(of education, a school, etc.) concerned with nonreligious subjects.
(of members of the clergy) not belonging to a religious order; not bound by monastic vows (opposed to regular).
occurring or celebrated once in an age or century:
the secular games of Rome.
going on from age to age; continuing through long ages.
a layperson.
one of the secular clergy.
1250-1300; < Medieval Latin sēculāris, Late Latin saeculāris worldly, temporal (opposed to eternal), Latin: of an age, equivalent to Latin saecul(um) long period of time + -āris -ar1; replacing Middle English seculer < Old French < Latin, as above
Related forms
secularly, adverb
nonsecular, adjective
presecular, adjective
supersecular, adjective
supersecularly, adverb
unsecular, adjective
unsecularly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for secular
  • It is not allowed in a religious space, but it is not forbidden in secular space.
  • He acted with a clear political purpose, one that he shared with much of the mainstream religious and secular right.
  • Married, religious people are more likely than secular singles to be happy.
  • But straight couples have the choice of a civil or a religious ceremony whereas gays are stuck with an underwhelming secular one.
  • Today the site also draws secular travelers-almost a million a year.
  • secular universities have cynically forsaken biblical studies.
  • If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support they can possibly give them.
  • There are alternative, secular ways to view the world.
  • The rest is speculation based on secular humanistic beliefs.
  • Unfortunately, it isn't the secular side of the debate which is framing the argument.
British Dictionary definitions for secular


of or relating to worldly as opposed to sacred things; temporal
not concerned with or related to religion
not within the control of the Church
(of an education, etc)
  1. having no particular religious affinities
  2. not including compulsory religious studies or services
(of clerics) not bound by religious vows to a monastic or other order
occurring or appearing once in an age or century
lasting for a long time
(astronomy) occurring slowly over a long period of time: the secular perturbation of a planet's orbit
a member of the secular clergy
another word for layman
Derived Forms
secularly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French seculer, from Late Latin saeculāris temporal, from Latin: concerning an age, from saeculum an age
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for secular

c.1300, "living in the world, not belonging to a religious order," also "belonging to the state," from Old French seculer (Modern French séculier), from Late Latin saecularis "worldly, secular, pertaining to a generation or age," from Latin saecularis "of an age, occurring once in an age," from saeculum "age, span of time, generation."

According to Watkins, this is probably from PIE *sai-tlo-, with instrumental element *-tlo- + *sai- "to bind, tie" (see sinew), extended metaphorically to successive human generations as links in the chain of life. Another theory connects it with words for "seed," from PIE root *se- "to sow" (see sow (v.), and cf. Gothic mana-seþs "mankind, world," literally "seed of men").

Used in ecclesiastical writing like Greek aion "of this world" (see cosmos). It is source of French siècle. Ancient Roman ludi saeculares was a three-day, day-and-night celebration coming once in an "age" (120 years). In English, in reference to humanism and the exclusion of belief in God from matters of ethics and morality, from 1850s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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secular in Culture
secular [(sek-yuh-luhr)]

Not concerned with religion or religious matters. Secular is the opposite of sacred.

Note: Secularization refers to the declining influence of religion and religious values within a given culture. Secular humanism means, loosely, a belief in human self-sufficiency.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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