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[pruh-feyn, proh-] /prəˈfeɪn, proʊ-/
characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things; irreligious.
not devoted to holy or religious purposes; unconsecrated; secular (opposed to sacred).
unholy; heathen; pagan:
profane rites.
not initiated into religious rites or mysteries, as persons.
common or vulgar.
verb (used with object), profaned, profaning.
to misuse (anything that should be held in reverence or respect); defile; debase; employ basely or unworthily.
to treat (anything sacred) with irreverence or contempt; violate the sanctity of:
to profane a shrine.
Origin of profane
1350-1400; (adj.) < Latin profānus literally, before (outside of) the temple; replacing Middle English prophane < Medieval Latin prophānus desecrated (see pro-1, fane); (v.) < Latin profānāre, derivative of profānus; replacing Middle English prophanen < Medieval Latin prophānāre to desecrate
Related forms
profanely, adverb
profaneness, noun
profaner, noun
half-profane, adjective
nonprofane, adjective
nonprofanely, adverb
nonprofaneness, noun
semiprofane, adjective
semiprofanely, adverb
semiprofaneness, noun
unprofane, adjective
unprofanely, adverb
unprofaneness, noun
unprofaned, adjective
Can be confused
1. blasphemous, sacrilegious, impious, ungodly. 2. temporal. 3. unhallowed. 5. low, mean, base. 7. desecrate.
1. sacred. 2. spiritual. 3. holy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for profaned
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We were told that the holy-water font and the vestments of the priests had been profaned and befouled.

  • She glared at him with tragic eyes—he might have profaned an altar.

    The Marriages Henry James
  • If they profaned holy days by this dancing, they were doomed to keep it up for a year.

    The Book of Hallowe'en Ruth Edna Kelley
  • Shall even the sanctuary be profaned by this polluting intruder?

    The Young Maiden A. B. (Artemas Bowers) Muzzey
  • Emotion in Maria was reaching its high-water mark; the need for concealing, lest it be profaned by other eyes, was over her.

    By the Light of the Soul Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • The daughter of a priest who profaned herself was to be burnt to death.

  • Thou, then, art the servant of this dog who has profaned the imperial gardens?

    The War Tiger Wiliam Dalton
  • I would not have profaned the sanctuary of their dwelling with my presence!

    She and I, Volume 2 John Conroy Hutcheson
  • Not within a hundred miles of this house, where they came clinging to me all profaned from the mouth of that man.

    The Arrow of Gold Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for profaned


having or indicating contempt, irreverence, or disrespect for a divinity or something sacred
not designed or used for religious purposes; secular
not initiated into the inner mysteries or sacred rites
vulgar, coarse, or blasphemous: profane language
verb (transitive)
to treat or use (something sacred) with irreverence
to put to an unworthy or improper use
Derived Forms
profanation (ˌprɒfəˈneɪʃən) noun
profanatory (prəˈfænətərɪ; -trɪ) adjective
profanely, adverb
profaneness, noun
profaner, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin profānus outside the temple, from pro-1 + fānum temple
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 profaned



late 14c., from Old French profaner, prophaner (13c.) and directly from Latin profanare "to desecrate, render unholy, violate," from profanus "unholy, not consecrated" (see profane (adj.)). Related: Profaned; profaning.


mid-15c., "un-ecclesiastical, secular," from Old French profane (12c.) and directly from Latin profanus "unholy, not consecrated," according to Barnhart from pro fano "not admitted into the temple (with the initiates)," literally "out in front of the temple," from pro- "before" (see pro-) + fano, ablative of fanum "temple" (see feast (n.)). Sense of "unholy, polluted" is recorded from c.1500. Related: Profanely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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