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adjective sec·u·lar \ˈse-kyə-lər\

Simple Definition of secular

  • : not spiritual : of or relating to the physical world and not the spiritual world

  • : not religious

  • : of, relating to, or controlled by the government rather than by the church

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of secular

  1. 1a :  of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns>b :  not overtly or specifically religious <secular music>c :  not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>

  2. 2 :  not bound by monastic vows or rules; specifically :  of, relating to, or forming clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation <a secular priest>

  3. 3a :  occurring once in an age or a centuryb :  existing or continuing through ages or centuriesc :  of or relating to a long term of indefinite duration <secular inflation>


play \ˌse-kyə-ˈla-rə-tē\ noun


play \ˈse-kyə-lər-lē\ adverb

Examples of secular in a sentence

  1. Bloomberg, by contrast, would be the most pro-immigration, pro-free trade, pro-Wall Street candidate in the race. The third-party candidate he would most resemble is John Anderson, the fiscally responsible, culturally liberal Republican who ran as an Independent in 1980. Anderson won 7% of the vote, mostly among the young, educated and secular. But today those people are partisan Democrats. —Peter Beinart, Time, 11 Feb. 2008

  2. In the early twentieth century, priests and religious built centers for Catholic study and worship on secular campuses. —Maurice Timothy Reidy, Commonweal, 7 Apr. 2006

  3. Some women, indeed, achieved great renown for their religious scholarship, becoming role models for their peers and silently challenging men, who for so long had held a monopoly in this area. Though they never carried the title of “rabbi” and in many cases eschewed the controversial “f-word” (feminism) altogether, these Orthodox women produced no less a revolution in the late twentieth century than women did in so many other realms, religious and secular alike. By challenging Judaism, they ended up strengthening Judaism. —Jonathan D. Sarna, American Judaism, 2004

  4. The reforms of the nineteenth century and the needs of commercial and other contacts with Europe led to the enactment of new laws, modeled on those of Europe—commercial, civil, criminal, and finally constitutional. In the traditional order the only lawyers were the ulema, the doctors of the Holy Law, at once jurists and theologians. The secular lawyer, pleading in courts administering secular law, represented a new and influential element in society. —Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?, 2002

  5. Both secular and religious institutions can apply for the funds.

  6. <that's an issue for the secular authorities, not the church>

Did You Know?

Secular comes from Anglo-French seculer and Late Latin saecularis, meaning "worldly" or "pagan." In earlier Latin, however, saecularis meant "coming or observed once in an age;" it was derived from "saeculum" ("breed," "generation," or "age"). In contemporary English, "secular" is primarily used to distinguish something (such as an attitude, belief, or position) that is not specifically religious or sectarian in nature, but, going back to its early Latin root, the word also means "occuring once in an age or a century," "existing or continuing through ages or centuries," and "of or relating to a long term of indefinite duration." These uses of "secular" are common in the fields of science and economics - "secular oak trees" or "secular inflation," for example.

Origin and Etymology of secular

Middle English, from Anglo-French seculer, from Late Latin saecularis, from saeculum the present world, from Latin, generation, age, century, world; akin to Welsh hoedl lifetime

First Known Use: 14th century



noun sec·u·lar \ˈse-kyə-lər\

Definition of secular





  1. 1 :  an ecclesiastic (as a diocesan priest) not bound by monastic vows or rules :  a member of the secular clergy

  2. 2 :  layman

Origin and Etymology of secular

(see 1secular)

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

SECULAR Defined for Kids


adjective sec·u·lar \ˈse-kyə-lər\

Definition of secular for Students

  1. 1 :  not concerned with religion or the church <secular society> <secular music>

  2. 2 :  not belonging to a religious order <a secular priest>

Seen and Heard

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