- an outcast.
- any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.
- (initial capital letter) a member of a low caste in southern India and Burma.
Origin of pariah
- a social outcast
- (formerly) a member of a low caste in South India
Word Origin for pariah
1610s, from Portuguese paria or directly from Tamil paraiyar, plural of paraiyan "drummer" (at festivals, the hereditary duty of members of the largest of the lower castes of southern India), from parai "large festival drum." "Especially numerous at Madras, where its members supplied most of the domestics in European service" [OED]. Applied by Hindus and Europeans to any members of low Hindu castes and even to outcastes. Extended meaning "social outcast" is first attested 1819.