\ \ [17] Now a general term for an ‘outcast’, pariah came into English from the caste system of southern India. It originally denoted a member of the largest of the lower castes, which was named in Tamil paraiyan. This meant literally ‘drummer’ (it was a derivative of parailarge festival drum’), a reference to the hereditary role of the paraiyar (plural) as drummers in festival parades.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • Pariah — Pa ri*ah, n. [From Tamil paraiyan, pl. paraiyar, one of the low caste, fr. parai a large drum, because they beat the drums at certain festivals.] [1913 Webster] 1. One of an aboriginal people of Southern India, regarded by the four castes of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • pariah — *outcast, castaway, derelict, reprobate, untouchable …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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