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From Tamil பறையர் ‎(paṟaiyar),from பறையன் ‎(paṟaiyaṉ, drummer), from பறை ‎(paṟai, drum) or from Malayalam പറയർ ‎(paṟayar), from പറയൻ ‎(paṟayan, drummer), from പറ ‎(paṟa, drum). Parai in Tamil or Para in Malayalam refers to a type of large drum designed to announce the king’s notices to the public. The people who made a living using the parai were called paraiyar; in the caste-ridden society they were in the lower strata, hence the derisive paraiah and pariah. Now the term is used to describe an outcast in English.



pariah ‎(plural pariahs)

  1. An outcast.
  2. A demographic group, species, or community that is generally despised.
  3. Someone in exile.
  4. A member of one of the oppressed social castes in India.
  5. A person who is rejected (from society or home).


  • 2014: Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Presence, Prologue
    I didn’t even need to finish the article to understand the damage it would do—which was swift and devastating. In a matter of weeks, Creating a Life was DOA—and, figuratively speaking, so was I. I went from being a much-feted author to a pariah, since one of the many problems of being trashed on the front page of the New York Times is that everyone is in the know.
  • 1985Robert Holmes, The Two Doctors, p 14
    ‘I’m a pariah, outlawed from Time Lord society.’
  • 1842William Makepeace Thackeray, The Fitz-Boodle Papers (Fitz-Boodle's Confessions, preface [1])
    What is this smoking that it should be considered a crime? I believe in my heart that women are jealous of it, as of a rival. They speak of it as of some secret, awful vice that seizes upon a man, and makes him a pariah from genteel society.


Related terms[edit]