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 sectarianism (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 Some protesters say these leaders have fostered sectarian divisions to help keep them scared and oppressed. Time, "Protests in Lebanon Are Entering Their Sixth Day. See How the Extraordinary Revolt Is Unfolding," 22 Oct. 2019 Unlike the Taliban, the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State often hit targets like Shiite mosques, gyms and schools to foment sectarian divisions. New York Times, "One Minute It Was an Afghan Wedding. The Next, a Funeral for 63.," 18 Aug. 2019 Tensions have mounted in Lebanon amid weeks of unprecedented protests sparked by an economic crisis, not the sectarian violence seen in previous conflicts in the Middle Eastern nation. Fox News, "Lebanon protests turn deadly as local party official killed," 13 Nov. 2019 In the hours after the resignation of Morales, an ethnic Aymara who was the first member of an indigenous community to become the President of Latin America’s only indigenous-majority country, sectarian violence broke out across the country. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "What Do Lula’s Release and Morales’s Ouster Signal for Latin America?," 13 Nov. 2019 The background noise of sectarian violence, mass unemployment and rising emigration got dialed down. Carmel Mc Mahon, Longreads, "Brigid, Magdalene, My Mother, and Me," 13 Nov. 2019 His first task post-election was to put out sectarian fires across India, most notably in Punjab and the northeast. Sanaya Chandar, Quartz India, "Rajiv Gandhi: The man who opened a can of worms at the Babri mosque," 9 Nov. 2019 One unintended consequence of this was the emergence of a popular opposition committed to non-sectarian, inclusive self-rule. John J Stremlau, Quartz Africa, "The fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago still resonates across Africa," 8 Nov. 2019 Protesters hold sectarian political systems, which Iraq and Lebanon have in common, accountable for the social barriers that have fueled decades of civil unrest. Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN, "Young Iraqis and Lebanese aren't just demanding better societies. They're creating them at protest sites," 6 Nov. 2019 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

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sectarian.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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Comments on sectarian

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