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 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 In February, on the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to India, sectarian violence on the streets of New Delhi left more than 50 people dead, most of them Muslims. New York Times, "India’s Leading Documentary Filmmaker Has a Warning," 1 Dec. 2020 In between, countless other conflicts, bouts of sectarian fighting, and other disasters plagued one generation after another, leading to waves of Lebanese emigration. Bassem Mroue, The Christian Science Monitor, "Lebanon at 100: Upheaval, crises, a new prime minister," 31 Aug. 2020 Any revolutionary impulse has to compete with tribal, sectarian and ideological affiliations. Faysal Itani, Star Tribune, "Lebanon's mushroom cloud of incompetence," 5 Aug. 2020 The landmark 1998 peace deal effectively ended 30 years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and created new institutions for cross-border cooperation. NBC News, "Joe Biden's Irish ancestral hometown Ballina revels in win, as London grows uneasy over Brexit," 18 Nov. 2020 Still, Biden, a creature of the ’70s and ’80s, strongly associates his ancestors’ homeland with the sectarian violence of that era and the hard struggle for peace. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Boris and Biden," 15 Nov. 2020 The fear that many, including Biden, have is that any kind of border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland risks a return of the sectarian violence in the '60s, '70s, 80's and 90's which left more than 3,500 dead. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "Biden saw echoes of Trump in Boris Johnson. Will it complicate the US-UK 'special relationship'?," 10 Nov. 2020 Critics warn that these revisions could lead to the resurrection of a hard border across Ireland and jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement, which ended years of sectarian violence. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Trump’s Defeat Weakens Boris Johnson in Urgent Brexit Talks," 9 Nov. 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

26 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sectarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sectarian


How to pronounce sectarian (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sectarian

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

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