AskDefine | Define pariah

Dictionary Definition

pariah n : a person who is rejected (from society or home) [syn: outcast, castaway, Ishmael]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Tamil paraiyar. Parai refers in Tamil to a type of large drum designed to announce king's notices to the public. The people who made a living using the parai were called paraiyar; in the caste ridden society they were in lower strata, hence the derisive paraiah and pariah. Now, the term is used to describe an outcast in English.
n. [Tamil. paraiyan, drummer, from parai, drum: a pariah was a hereditary drumbeater.]


  • /pəˈraɪə/


  1. An outcast
  2. A demographic group, species, or community that is generally despised.
  3. Someone in exile
  4. A member of one of the opressed social castes in India.


Related terms

Extensive Definition

Pariah, (Tamil language) or Paraya in Malayalam, is the name of the Pariah caste of Indian Hindu society. The word has gained widespread use as an analogy, especially in the phrases "social pariah" and "pariah nation" or "pariah state", as a term for anyone considered an outcast, isolated, or different by others. The word is considered to be offensive to the Pariahs (Pariah drummers). More recently, they have taken to calling themselves Sambavas.
Pariah may also refer to:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

DP, Diogenes, Hieronymian, Hieronymite, Ishmael, Timon of Athens, alien, anchoress, anchorite, ascetic, bedridden invalid, case, castaway, character, cloistered monk, closet cynic, crackpot, crank, declasse, derelict, desert fathers, desert saints, displaced person, eccentric, eremite, evictee, exile, expatriate, expellee, fanatic, hermit, hermitess, hobo, homebody, invalid, isolationist, kook, leper, lone wolf, loner, marabout, maverick, meshuggenah, natural, nonconformist, nut, odd fellow, oddball, oddity, original, outcast, outcast of society, outcaste, outlaw, outsider, persona non grata, pillar saint, pillarist, queer duck, queer fish, queer specimen, rara avis, recluse, screwball, seclusionist, shut-in, social outcast, solitaire, solitary, solitudinarian, stay-at-home, stylite, tramp, type, unacceptable person, undesirable, untouchable, zealot
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