Definition of pariah in English:
- They have since been treated as the pariahs of the political establishment.
- Now, six decades later, smokers have become the social pariahs: excluded, if not frowned upon, by contemporary behavioral codes and even municipal law.
- Traveling alone (especially for women) is seen as sad and desperate, a cardinal sin, reserved for those social pariahs who talk to their cats.
Early 17th century: from Tamil paṛaiyar, plural of paṛaiyan '(hereditary) drummer', from paṛai 'a drum'.
This comes from the southern Indian languages Tamil and Malayalam, and literally means ‘hereditary drummer’ from the word meaning ‘large drum’. The original pariahs were a people in southern India who acted as sorcerers and ceremonial drummers and also as labourers and servants. They were a tribal people outside the traditional Hindu caste system, and came to be regarded as ‘untouchables’ who did all the insanitary jobs. From there the sense ‘a social outcast’ developed in the early 19th century.
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