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pariah

[puh-rahy-uh] /pəˈraɪ ə/
noun
1.
an outcast.
2.
any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.
3.
(initial capital letter) a member of a low caste in southern India and Burma.
Origin
1605-1615
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for pariah
  • The pariah of social networks lost nearly half of its unique visitors over the course of the past year.
  • Even if one's marriage was a sham, divorce made a woman a social pariah in the Victorian era.
  • The rumor of illegitimacy, says Isbouts, would have made him a pariah in his small village.
  • In her teens she accidentally (or so she says) burns down a friend's house, thus becoming a pariah in her birth family.
  • It was an accident, but it made Ray — a fresh, believable hero — a pariah.
  • Suddenly some people seem to view me as a pariah, a leper, a contagion.
  • Suddenly the pariah is a hero, cheered by one and all.
  • But if anyone's a pariah now, it's the never-married singleton.
  • As a result, I'm pretty much a pariah.
  • The likelihood of winning and not ending up as a pariah are slim.
British Dictionary definitions for pariah

pariah

/pəˈraɪə; ˈpærɪə/
noun
1.
a social outcast
2.
(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
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Word Origin and History for pariah
pariah
1613, from Port. paria or directly from Tamil paraiyar, pl. 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. Applied by Hindus and Europeans to members of any low Hindu caste and even to outcastes. Extended meaning "social outcast" is first attested 1819.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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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.
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Encyclopedia Article for pariah

member of a low-caste group of Hindu India, formerly known as "untouchables" but renamed by the Indian social reformer Mahatma Gandhi as Harijans (children of the god Hari Visnu, or, simply, children of God). The word pariah-originally derived from Tamil paraiyar, "drummer"-once referred to the Paraiyan, a Tamil caste group of labourers and village servants of low status, but the meaning was extended to embrace many groups outside the so-called clean caste groups, with widely varying degrees of status. See also untouchable.

Learn more about pariah with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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