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[kath-ahr] /ˈkæθ ɑr/
noun, plural Cathari
[kath-uh-rahy] /ˈkæθ əˌraɪ/ (Show IPA),
(in medieval Europe) a member of any of several rigorously ascetic Christian sects maintaining a dualistic theology.
Also called Catharist
[kath-er-ist] /ˈkæθ ər ɪst/ (Show IPA)
1630-40; < Late Latin Catharī (plural) < Late Greek hoi Katharoí Novatians, literally, the pure; applied in ML to various sects
Related forms
Catharism, noun
Catharistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cathars
  • The cathars believed there existed within mankind a spark of divine light.
  • As a consequence of their rejection of oaths, cathars also rejected marriage vows.
  • cathars who refused to recant were hanged, or burned at the stake.
  • Nevertheless, interest in the cathars, their history, legacy and beliefs continues.
  • These areas have ruins from the wars against the cathars which are still visible today.
  • They claim to be descended from the cathars of the middle ages.
British Dictionary definitions for cathars


noun (pl) -ars, -ari (-ərɪ), -arists
a member of a Christian sect in Provence in the 12th and 13th centuries who believed the material world was evil and only the spiritual was good
Derived Forms
Catharism, noun
Word Origin
from Medieval Latin Cathari, from Greek katharoi the pure
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 cathars



1570s, "religious puritan" (implied in Catharism), from Medieval Latin Cathari "the Pure," name taken by Novatians and other Christian sects, from New Testament Greek katharezein "to make clean," from Greek katheros "pure." Related: Catharist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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