- The definition of a pariah is a person who is rejected from society or who is an outcast.
An example of a pariah is a person no one will speak to or interact with.
- a member of one of the lowest social castes in India
- any person despised or rejected by others; outcast
Origin: Tamil paṛaiyan, drummer from paṛai, a drum: the pariah was a hereditary drumbeater
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- A social outcast: “Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard” (Mark Twain).
- An Untouchable.
Origin: Tamil paṛaiyar, pl. of paṛaiyan, pariah caste, from paṛai, festival drum.Word History: The word pariah, which can be used for anyone who is a social outcast, independent of social position, recalls a much more rigid social system, which made only certain people pariahs. The caste system of India placed pariahs, also known as Untouchables, very low in society. The word pariah, which we have extended in meaning, came into English from Tamil paṛaiyar, the plural of paṛaiyan, the caste name, which literally means “(hereditary) drummer” and comes from the word paṛai, the name of a drum used at certain festivals. The word is first recorded in English in 1613. Its use in English and its extension in meaning probably owe much to the long period of British rule in India.