pa·​ro·​chi·​al | \ pə-ˈrō-kē-əl How to pronounce parochial (audio) \

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 How to pronounce parochially (audio) \ 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

Electoral math drives protectionist trade policies to favor parochial interests in battleground states. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Popular Vote backers miss a key Electoral College rationale," 27 June 2019 Those polling numbers are one reason the Trump administration’s policy apparatus has been laser-focused on parochial Florida issues. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Florida is ground zero for Donald Trump’s re-election," 18 June 2019 San Mateo County high schools, both public and private/parochial, produced 31 National Merit Scholarship winners in 2019. John Horgan, The Mercury News, "Horgan: Local 2019 National Merit Scholarship winners announced," 13 June 2019 The churches of all three parishes will remain open as parochial churches of the new Our Lady of Knock and SS. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Archdiocese says St. Victor in Calumet City may still close, despite rare Vatican ruling," 12 June 2019 Baseball, which has spread more modestly and remains fundamentally a domestic game, is parochial by comparison. The Economist, "Baseball and exceptionalism," 8 June 2019 Sister Rita has been involved with the education of both parochial and public-school students. Shirley Macfarland,, "The ribs will soon be grilling at City Club’s Rib Burnoff: Strong Points," 6 June 2019 More than 25,000 Maryland public, private, parochial and home-schooled students in grades 6 through 12 participated in the programs throughout the year. Courtney Mcgee,, "Students at Immaculate Conception in Towson honored with history awards," 5 June 2019 Drunken shouts, parochial boasts, empty words cannot conceal the treachery. Amos Oz, Harper's magazine, "Setting the World to Rights," 10 Apr. 2019

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

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

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
formal + usually disapproving : limited to only the things that affect your local area


pa·​ro·​chi·​al | \ pə-ˈrō-kē-əl How to pronounce parochial (audio) \

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).


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!