sec·​tar·​i·​an | \ sek-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce sectarian (audio) \

Definition of sectarian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect or sectarian
2 : limited in character or scope : parochial



Definition of sectarian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an adherent of a sect
2 : a narrow or bigoted person

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Other Words from sectarian


sectarianism \ sek-​ˈter-​ē-​ə-​ˌni-​zəm How to pronounce sectarian (audio) \ noun

Examples of sectarian in a Sentence

Adjective The country was split along sectarian lines. there are people on both the left and the right who have staked out unyielding sectarian positions in this debate Noun charged that the work of Congress has been stymied by sectarians who are indifferent to reason and intolerant of compromise
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Other sectarian leaders saw an opening to score points against the president and his son-in-law. Los Angeles Times, "Climate change and corruption endanger an ancient valley in Lebanon," 21 Feb. 2021 Lebanon's sectarian leaders are still haggling over who will be in the new cabinet. NBC News, "Beirut explosion: Lebanon's prime minister charged in connection with port blast," 10 Dec. 2020 And it was revived by a desire on all sides to make the peace: successive American administrations, but particularly the Clinton administration, and successive Irish and British governments, both sides of the sectarian divide. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, "With News of the World, Paul Greengrass Went for Optimism," 3 Feb. 2021 And recruitment in the civilian bureaucracy is dictated by political or sectarian quotas. Faysal Itani, Star Tribune, "Lebanon's mushroom cloud of incompetence," 5 Aug. 2020 As for the regional environment, the major Middle Eastern states moved quickly either to oppose the specter of democratization or to support their own ideological or sectarian clients. Paul Salem, Time, "Why the Arab Spring Failed—And Why It May Yet Succeed," 6 Jan. 2021 But the Friendship Circle was a non-sectarian group that was eligible, and Y.H. and Goldstein agreed to work together, according to prosecutors. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Qualcomm manager admits role in rabbi fraud case," 29 Dec. 2020 But the focus of the celebration — pushed heavily by the early rabbis who wanted to mute the nationalistic and sectarian sides of the holiday — is on a minor-sounding miracle. Noah Millman, TheWeek, "America's corrosive obsession with scarcity," 24 Dec. 2020 Pope Francis will make the first papal visit to Iraq in March, to support the country’s Christian minority and urge peace and reconciliation in a nation racked by years of sectarian violence, including partial occupation by Islamic State militants. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Pope Francis to Visit Iraq in March," 7 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Quite the contrary, the image of the cross makes the war memorial sectarian. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "SCOTUS: Cross honoring military can remain on public land," 20 June 2019 Quite the contrary, the image of the cross makes the war memorial sectarian. Robert Barnes, Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court rules that giant cross honoring military dead can remain on public land," 20 June 2019 Lebanon’s unique sectarian make up and place in the region make its politics about local issues like jobs, infrastructure, and garbage collection as well as about regional rivalries and alliances. Ben Hubbard,, "Elections in Lebanon boost Hezbollah’s clout," 7 May 2018 And so, there was the odd spectacle of the Irish Times religion reporter, Patsy McGarry, ringing in the 2016 with an editorial suggesting that Rising leaders Patrick Pearse and James Connolly were poisonous Catholic sectarians. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "The Next Lost Cause," 1 Nov. 2017 As a result, Sunni sectarians across the region concluded that Obama’s United States was on the side of the Shia. Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, "Trump Complies Perfectly With the Saudi Line," 21 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sectarian.' 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 sectarian


1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for sectarian

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The first known use of sectarian was in 1649

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Statistics for sectarian

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sectarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for sectarian



English Language Learners Definition of sectarian

: relating to religious or political sects and the differences between them

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