pro·​fane | \ prō-ˈfān How to pronounce profane (audio) , prə- \
profaned; profaning

Definition of profane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt : desecrate
2 : to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use



Definition of profane (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : not concerned with religion or religious purposes : secular
2 : not holy because unconsecrated, impure, or defiled : unsanctified
3a : serving to debase or defile what is holy : irreverent
4a : not being among the initiated
b : not possessing esoteric or expert knowledge

Other Words from profane


profaner noun


profanely adverb
profaneness \ prō-​ˈfān-​nəs How to pronounce profane (audio) , prə-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for profane

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of profane in a Sentence

Verb the once-lovely landscape had been profaned by ugly factories profaned his considerable acting talents by appearing in some wretched movies Adjective it was hard to juggle the requirements of church and our more profane duties offended by the profane language that her coworkers used so casually
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Her husband, the exuberant and often profane former Dodgers manager who won two World Series championships, died Jan. 7 at 93. Steve Marble, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2021 The narrative is that of a leader who has experienced vilification at the hands of enemies who are both secular (and thus profane) and intensely demonic. Federico Finchelstein, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2020 The following day, Pope Francis spoke out against violence toward women during his New Year’s Day homily in St. Peter’s Basilica, equating it to profaning God, according to the Associated Press. Josiah Bates, Time, 1 Jan. 2020 By targeting a house of worship, rather than a private home or business, the attacker has committed a powerful symbolic transgression: profaning a space that is both sacred and communal. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, 27 Oct. 2018 There’s a way certain things—death, extreme poverty—are deemed so tragic that they cannot be profaned, they can only be spoken of reverently or seriously. Joe Fassler, The Atlantic, 13 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Their hilariously profane coach, played by David M. Edelstein, seems unlikely to come through but does. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 28 Oct. 2021 The company devised labels and beer names that made profane reference to feces and female dogs. Alex Traub, New York Times, 20 June 2021 And he was briefly suspended at Tennessee for a profane social-media tirade against the coaching staff. Eric Branch,, 9 Jan. 2021 The group’s furious and profane lyrics were bolstered by Dre’s ear for the bounce of funk. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2021 At the 1990 Australian Open, John McEnroe was defaulted from his fourth-round match for profane verbal abuse of officials. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, 6 Sep. 2020 And was briefly suspended at Tennessee for a profane social-media tirade against the coaching staff. Eric Branch,, 14 Aug. 2020 Nancy Dowd’s hilariously profane dialogue, like her characters, pulls no punches, a narrative inspired by her brother’s exploits riding the buses around hockey’s minor leagues. Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, 1 May 2020 Henry VIII remains the poster boy for codpieces, those profane protuberances that drew eyes crotchward in the sixteenth century. Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, 23 May 2020

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

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First Known Use of profane


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for profane


Middle English prophanen, from Anglo-French prophaner, from Latin profanare, from profanus


Middle English prophane, from Middle French, from Latin profanus, from pro- before + fanum temple — more at pro-, feast

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Time Traveler for profane

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

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Cite this Entry

“Profane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for profane



English Language Learners Definition of profane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to treat (a holy place or object) with great disrespect



English Language Learners Definition of profane (Entry 2 of 2)

: having or showing disrespect for religious things
: relating to ordinary life : not religious or spiritual : secular


pro·​fane | \ prō-ˈfān How to pronounce profane (audio) \

Kids Definition of profane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: showing disrespect for God or holy things


profaned; profaning

Kids Definition of profane (Entry 2 of 2)

: to treat (something sacred) with great disrespect

More from Merriam-Webster on profane

Nglish: Translation of profane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of profane for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about profane


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