pa·​ri·​ah pə-ˈrī-ə How to pronounce pariah (audio)
plural pariahs
: someone or something that is despised or rejected : outcast
She is a pariah within the Republican Party for doing something she grew up believing the Republican Party stood for …Ed Montini
A nation, it seemed, had become a global pariah overnight.Adam Westbrook and Kirk Semple

Note: Although sense 1 is in common use and is not usually regarded as offensive by Western English speakers, it is highly inflammatory to many people of Indian descent due to its close association with the offensive caste-related meaning of sense 2.

dated, offensive : a member of a low caste of southern India

Examples of pariah in a Sentence

For decades, African states longed for the day when South Africa would be liberated from its status as the apartheid pariah and become the economic engine that would pull Africa out of its mire of poverty and underdevelopment, much as Japan did for the Pacific Rim. Allister Sparks, Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2001
Once they began to migrate to the United States, especially after this country conferred citizenship on them in 1917, they discovered what it meant to be a pariah in the country that had adopted them. John Hope Franklin, "The Land of Room Enough," 1981, in Race and History1989
Even as her star was rising in the outside world, she was becoming more and more a pariah in her own village, where her isolation and sense of rejection made her, for a time, a prisoner in her house, a victim of agoraphobia. Judy Oppenheimer, New York Times Book Review, 3 July 1988
He's a talented player but his angry outbursts have made him a pariah in the sport of baseball. I felt like a pariah when I wore the wrong outfit to the dinner party.
Recent Examples on the Web Russia has been committing crimes against humanity and has become an international pariah. Katya Soldak, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2023 Syria itself is an international pariah under Western sanctions linked to the war. Mehmet Guzel, Ghaith Alsayed and Suzan Fraser, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Feb. 2023 Russia has become a pariah to the G7 because of [its] invasion. Yvonne Lau, Fortune, 15 Sep. 2022 In the meantime, some see Biden as having compromised on some of his promises to put human rights at the center of his agenda, including a pledge to make Saudi Arabia a pariah because of the brutal murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi and other attempts to silence dissidents. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug. 2022 Lee was viewed as a pariah by many afterward, and subjected to death threats, but her qualms about granting a president too much power are now echoed by politicians in both parties. Staff Writer follow, Los Angeles Times, 20 Feb. 2023 The Democrats are helping a far-right election denier who has become a pariah within her party in her race against a less extreme, but still election-denying, conservative., 14 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pariah.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Tamil paṟaiyan, literally, drummer

First Known Use

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of pariah was in 1613

Dictionary Entries Near pariah

Cite this Entry

“Pariah.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


pa·​ri·​ah pə-ˈrī-ə How to pronounce pariah (audio)
: a person despised or rejected by society : outcast

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