pa·​ro·​chi·​al | \pə-ˈrō-kē-əl \

Definition of parochial 

1 : of or relating to a church parish our pastor and other parochial leaders

2 : of or relating to a parish as a unit of local government parochial authorities serve the inhabitants of Louisiana's parishes

3 : confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish : limited in range or scope (as to a narrow area or region) : provincial, narrow

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from parochial

parochially \ pə-​ˈrō-​kē-​ə-​lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

In the Greek New Testament, the word paroikia means "temporary residence." (It's from the Greek word for "stranger" - paroikos.) Early Christians used this designation for their colonies because they considered heaven their real home. But temporary or not, these Christian colonies became more organized as time went on. Thus, in Late Latin, parochia became the designation for a group of Christians in a given area under the leadership of one pastor - what we came to call a parish in the 14th century. Both parish and its related adjective parochial were borrowed at that time directly from Middle French terms that had been derived from the Late Latin. We didn't begin to use parochial in its "narrow" sense until the mid-19th century.

Examples of parochial in a Sentence

It has never been clearer that the country's best self is a global inheritance, its worst a parochial self-certainty. — Jedediah Purdy, New York Times Book Review, 22 Feb. 2009 There is no patience for the parochial, the small-time, the stay-in-place, not in Los Angeles. — Richard Hoffer, Sports Illustrated, 8 Sept. 2008 … during the mid-1780s, Madison had two great goals. The first was to inculcate an enlightened sense of national interest in legislators whose political instincts were innately parochial. — Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings … , 1996 our pastor and other parochial leaders voters worried about their own parochial concerns
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The long-time assumption was that while Congress represented parochial or regional interests, a President would act in the national interest to expand trade. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Congress vs. Trump on Tariffs," 7 June 2018 And politics, once dominated by parochial concerns, has become increasingly nationalized in the age of Twitter and Facebook, where O’Rourke is a constant presence. Kevin Diaz And Alejandra Matos, San Antonio Express-News, "O’Rourke vs. Cruz draws millions in contributions from outside of Texas," 11 July 2018 So what began as a parochial attempt by a new antitrust chief to minimize his embarrassment has become, somewhat idiotically, a test of whether the new Trump administration will support the 5G economy or entrap it in molasses. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Why the AT&T Case Suddenly Matters," 11 May 2018 Like many Catholic schools around the region, Holy Cross has suffered from a declining enrollment, escalating costs, and rising tuition that has put a parochial education out of reach for some families. Melanie Burney,, "Holy Cross Academy reaches deal. Burlington County's lone Catholic school is saved," 1 May 2018 Fiscal hawks may add that charter, parochial and private schools spend government dollars more efficiently, or that a one-size-fits-all education system is as antiquated as Model T production. Bobby Jindal, WSJ, "The Moral Logic of School Choice," 25 June 2018 Its grade school students currently go on to attend a number of public, parochial and private schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. Jeanne Houck,, "Cincinnati Waldorf School to open temporary high school in Madisonville," 22 June 2018 The Metro board has been criticized as being parochial and hampered by infighting. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "As Metro Safety Commission gets underway, there’s housekeeping to be done," 24 Mar. 2018 The mayor overcame skepticism from New Orleans' famously parochial political class, which tends to gravitate toward candidates who can prove a familial connection to the city. Kevin Litten,, "New Mayor LaToya Cantrell takes office: New Orleans 'A city open to all'," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parochial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of parochial

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for parochial

Middle English parochiall, from Anglo-French parochial, from Late Latin parochialis, from parochia parish — more at parish

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about parochial

Listen to Our Podcast about parochial

Statistics for parochial

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for parochial

The first known use of parochial was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for parochial



English Language Learners Definition of parochial

: of or relating to a church parish and the area around it

: limited to only the things that affect your local area


pa·​ro·​chi·​al | \pə-ˈrō-kē-əl \

Legal Definition of parochial 

: of or relating to a parish

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on parochial

What made you want to look up parochial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!