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 Bloodlands, a four-part BBC crime drama that broke ratings records in Northern Ireland and has since been renewed for a second season, awakens the ghosts of that sectarian violence. Judy Berman, Time, "The 5 Best New Shows Our TV Critic Watched in March 2021," 31 Mar. 2021 Abdallah said her wish is to live in an Iraq where Christians and other minorities are afforded equal rights — not today's Iraq where the sectarian power-sharing system often marginalizes minorities. Samya Kullab, Star Tribune, "Iraqi woman who met the pope sees little chance for change," 12 Mar. 2021 The joint appearance by figures from across Iraq’s sectarian spectrum was almost unheard-of, given their communities’ often bitter divisions. Fox News, "After historic whirlwind visit, Pope leaves Iraq for Rome," 8 Mar. 2021 He was joined by religious figures from across Iraq's sectarian spectrum. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Calls for unity amid Iraq’s diversity," 8 Mar. 2021 The joint appearance by figures from across Iraq’s sectarian spectrum was almost unheard-of, given their communities’ often bitter divisions. Nicole Winfield And Qassim Abdul-zahra,, "Symbolizing peaceful coexistence, Pope Francis has rare meeting at home of top Shiite cleric during visit to Iraq," 6 Mar. 2021 The election was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s polarizing leadership style, and the initial results showed that the country remains as deeply divided as ever, with an array of small sectarian parties dominating the parliament. Time, "There Is No Clear Winner in the Israeli Election, Signaling More Deadlock Ahead," 24 Mar. 2021 Even ardent supporters of mainstream parties call for an overhaul of the country's confessional power sharing system, which allots seats by sectarian group. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Specter of civil conflict in Lebanon looms as economic meltdown gives way to violence," 20 Mar. 2021 Everyone down to the security guards was picked under the sectarian horse-trading formula. Nabih Bulos And Marcus Yam, Star Tribune, "Modern threats on ancient valley," 18 Mar. 2021 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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Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sectarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of sectarian

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

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