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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 profanely
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It must be something dreadful, or my master would not be raving so profanely.

    The Belovd Vagabond William J. Locke
  • They played together, profanely, with the idea that Nicky was after all divine.

    The Creators May Sinclair
  • The king, profanely as he spoke, was sincere; nor had the remotest thought of a massacre yet entered his head.

    Old and New Paris, v. 1 Henry Sutherland Edwards
  • That you come not profanely and carelessly, with common hearts, as to a common work.

  • They assured him profanely that they were with him to the “finish”–whatever it might be.

    The Coming of the Law Charles Alden Seltzer
  • Noisily and profanely they came, making a holiday of the impending slaughter.

    Cursed George Allan England
  • He wished, fervently and profanely, that the greasers would try to steal some horses, so that he could be doing something.

    Skyrider B. M. Bower
  • The Swede began to talk; he talked arrogantly, profanely, angrily.

  • Neale jumped and floundered for five minutes, then the peppery scrub quarter consigned him profanely to the side-lines.

    Rough-Hewn Dorothy Canfield
British Dictionary definitions for profanely


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 profanely



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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