Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[puh-rahy-uh] /pəˈraɪ ə/
an outcast.
any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.
(initial capital letter) a member of a low caste in southern India and Burma.
Origin of pariah
1605-15; < Tamil paṟaiyar, plural of paṟaiyan literally, drummer (from a hereditary duty of the caste), derivative of paṟai a festival drum
Related forms
pariahdom, noun
pariahism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for pariah
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When the light was turned out, the pariah dog got up stealthily and crept much nearer to the Loulia.

    Bella Donna Robert Hichens
  • An Artaud, their ancestor, had come hither and settled like a pariah in this waste.

  • We cannot accept a standard for men which works out with the certainty of a mathematical law a pariah class of women.

  • No; he must himself warn Dom Diego that he was a leper—a pariah.

  • Think of him pleading for the elevation of the pariah Eta, accursed and outcast through Buddhism, to humanity and citizenship.

    The Religions of Japan William Elliot Griffis
British Dictionary definitions for pariah


/pəˈraɪə; ˈpærɪə/
a social outcast
(formerly) a member of a low caste in South India
Word Origin
C17: from Tamil paraiyan drummer, from parai drum; so called because members of the caste were the drummers at festivals
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for pariah

1610s, from Portuguese paria or directly from Tamil paraiyar, plural of paraiyan "drummer" (at festivals, the hereditary duty of members of the largest of the lower castes of southern India), from parai "large festival drum." "Especially numerous at Madras, where its members supplied most of the domestics in European service" [OED]. Applied by Hindus and Europeans to any members of low Hindu castes and even to outcastes. Extended meaning "social outcast" is first attested 1819.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
pariah in Culture
pariah [(puh-reye-uh)]

An outcast; a member of a low caste or class.

Note: The word originally stems from the caste system of India, which put pariahs in a very low place in society. In the United States, it refers to those of low social class or social status.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for pariah

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for pariah

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for pariah