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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Al-Sadr is also blamed for the mass killings of Sunni civilians in sectarian violence that peaked in Iraq during 2006 and 2007. Khalid Razak, NBC News, 30 July 2022 Those inter-Shi’ite divisions have supplanted sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite groups in past years as a main source of Iraqi instability. Jane Arraf,, 13 June 2022 That presented a problem on the island of Ireland, where the sudden imposition of border checks between the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU, and Northern Ireland risked inflaming sectarian tensions. Max Colchester, WSJ, 17 May 2022 Is the family structure the foundation of society, or merely the kindling for sectarian violence? Joshua Alston, Variety, 6 July 2022 The foreign ministers also argued the move jeopardizes peace in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement, which helped end decades of sectarian violence and has stood since 1998. Mike Fuller, ajc, 3 July 2022 Brexit has disrupted Northern Ireland’s fragile political and economic equilibrium, while the British government seems determined to put the Troubles and its legacy of sectarian violence firmly in the past. New York Times, 3 July 2022 The agreement ended decades of sectarian strife by, among other things, creating an open border on the island. New York Times, 7 May 2022 Instead, it was sucked into a messy insurgency for eight years that eventually spawned ISIS and left the state riven by sectarian strife and corruption. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2022 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, 20 June 2019 Quite the contrary, the image of the cross makes the war memorial sectarian. Robert Barnes, Anchorage Daily News, 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,, 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, 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, 21 May 2017 See More

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.

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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The first known use of sectarian was in 1649

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sectarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on sectarian

Nglish: Translation of sectarian for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sectarian for Arabic Speakers


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