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[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.
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British Dictionary definitions for pariahism


/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
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Word Origin and History for pariahism



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
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pariahism 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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