Pariah Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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If you’re a social outcast, you’ve likely been called a pariah before — but what does the word pariah mean, and where did it come from? We’ll tell you. 

Read on as we explore the word pariah to uncover its definition, origin, usage, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Pariah?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a pariah as a person who is not accepted by a social group or a person who is avoided — especially because they are not respected, trusted, or liked. In essence, a pariah is an outcast. 

What Is the Origin of the Word Pariah?

The etymology of our word of the day begins in the 1610s and takes its name from a tribe in Southeast India: The Pariahs

The Pariahs were servants, drummers, and sorcerers who became untouchables due to the unsanitary and unsightly jobs they performed. 

That said, the name pariah came from the Tamil paṟaiyan and paṛai (meaning festival drum) and its Malayalam equivalent, paṟayan. This pair of words refers to a member of a Dalit group of southern India and Sri Lanka , both of which had a diminutive status in India’s traditional caste system.

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Pariah?

Now that you understand what pariah means, let’s open a thesaurus to take a look at some synonyms and antonyms.

Synonyms of Pariah

A Synonym is a word with the same meaning as another word. Synonyms of pariah include:

  • Outcast
  • Leper
  • Good for nothing 
  • Tramp
  • Black sheep 
  • Expatriate 
  • Homeless person
  • Bag lady
  • Vagrant
  • Ne’er-do-well 
  • No good 
  • Unprincipled person 
  • Derelict
  • Bindlestiff
  • Expatriate
  • Offscouring 
  • Reject 
  • Person of no fixed address 
  • Bad egg
  • Evildoer
  • Lone wolf
  • Blot on the escutcheon 
  • Bad apple 
  • Wrong ‘un
  • Scoundrel 
  • Bereaved child
  • Wastrel 
  • Blackguard 
  • Rotten apple
  • Troublemaker 
  • Exile
  • Down and out
  • Social outcast
  • Castoff
  • Enfant trouvé 
  • Persona non grata
  • Reprobate
  • Castaway 
  • Untouchable 
  • Recluse
  • Displaced person

Antonyms of Pariah

Antonyms, on the other hand, are words opposite in meaning to another word. Antonyms of pariah include:

  • Tiptoeing
  • Love
  • Chosen one
  • Selection
  • Pick
  • Choice
  • Favorite
  • Friend
  • Idol
  • Insider
  • Choice
  • Election
  • Draft pick
  • Preference 
  • Member 
  • Associate 

How Can You Use Pariah in a Sentence?

If you describe an individual as a pariah, you essentially mean that other people dislike them to such a degree that they simply refuse to associate with them. With this in mind, let’s put our newfound knowledge to the test and practice using our word of the day in a sentence. 

Not sure where to start? Not to worry — we compiled a list of example sentences for you to refer to below:

“When the prisoner was released from jail, he was treated like a pariah in his community.”

“I don’t mean to be a social pariah but I would much rather go to bed at a decent hour than party with everyone until the cows come home.”

“I am essentially the polar opposite of a pariah. In other words, I am a well-liked extrovert.”

“Did you know that a pariah state may face international isolation?”

“My attitude may give me pariah status, but it’s how I feel — and that’s that!”

“Did you know that a pariah is a member of a low caste in southern India and Myanmar?”

“After voting for the opposing party, I immediately felt like a pariah.”

“More often than not, the traditional outcast — or pariah — becomes the hero in this day in age.”

“Wherever the convicted felon goes, he’s a pariah.”

“Are you able to recall how many people died before smoking cigarettes became a pariah?”

“Whenever I visit my hometown, I get treated like a pariah.”

“Suzie is very good at what she does, but she doesn’t have very many friends because of her pariah-like attitude.”

What Are Translations of Pariah?

Seeing as the word pariah has been around for quite some time, it’s not surprising that there’s more than one way to say it. Common translations of pariah include:

Chinese (traditional) — 為社會所拋棄者, 受蔑視的人, 不被信任者

Czech — vyděděnec

German — der/die Ausgestoßene

Ukrainian — парія

French — paria

Indonesian — orang buangan

Danish — paria, udskudt

Thai — คนนอกคอก

Vietnamese — người hạ đẳng


In short, a pariah is a person that has been soundly rejected by their community. It’s a person who is untrusted, never respected, and definitely not liked. In other words, they are an outcast — or a black sheep — and generally avoided.

We hope this article has provided you with everything you need to truly understand the meaning of pariah. If you’d like to discover more interesting words and their definitions, head on over to our website where you’ll find informative blogs, useful tips, helpful grammar tools, and more.  

Whether you’re looking to make sense of a confusing slang word, hoping to find the difference between two similar terms, or are simply on a mission to improve your overall existing vocabulary, you can always count on us to have your back. 


Pariah Synonyms | Collins English Thesaurus  

Pariah : definition | Cambridge English Dictionary 

Pariah Definition & Meaning |