Definition of sectarian in English:



  • 1Denoting or concerning a sect or sects.

    ‘the city's traditional sectarian divide’
    • ‘With a separatist impulse, fundamentalism turned inward; but the sectarian subculture that coalesced was resourceful and vibrant.’
    • ‘Occasionally, sectarian concerns discouraged both Protestants and Catholics from attending branches.’
    • ‘At the Agreement's heart was a Stormont Assembly that institutionalised the sectarian divide.’
    • ‘The truth is that the Orange Order can no longer parade in a nakedly sectarian and triumphalist fashion.’
    • ‘And like any church, Adventism of course has its sectarian movements and offshoots.’
    • ‘One way to avoid any kind of sectarian essentializing leading to religious fanaticism is to read these texts in comparative and inclusive ways.’
    • ‘There is no room for petty insularity and sectarian nonsense - the Scots must see themselves as nimble enough to change and take on the world's best.’
    • ‘But, after the earliest period, sectarian denominations became less and less important.’
    • ‘The demonstration spanned the city's traditional sectarian divide, with marchers coming from every area.’
    • ‘They have been forced to hire devotees of sectarian Orthodoxy, who inevitably influence the religious orientation of their students.’
    • ‘But it has been pursued with the same sectarian, thuggish, and ultimately self-defeating spirit.’
    • ‘We can point, randomly, to instances that fuelled the fire of sectarian hatred.’
    • ‘Well first of all I don't think of religion at all in sectarian terms.’
    • ‘And the peace process itself entrenches the sectarian division between Protestant and Catholic.’
    • ‘Sadr's decision will also exacerbate sectarian tensions between the Sunni and Shiite elite.’
    • ‘The truth is that Northern Ireland is a state which nurtures sectarian divide and rule.’
    • ‘This movement transcended religious and sectarian divisions and was determined to end the US-led occupation.’
    • ‘Socialist politics are the only way to break down sectarian divisions.’
    • ‘Today those closest to our violent past seem to dominate the political landscape and many remain entranced by sectarian concerns.’
    • ‘In northern Iraq, sectarian tensions are also escalating in the wake of the referendum.’
    1. 1.1(of an action) carried out on the grounds of membership of a sect, denomination, or other group.
      ‘sectarian killings’
      • ‘They have carried out several sectarian murders and launched hundreds of pipe-bomb and blast bombs attacks on Catholic homes.’
      • ‘It would unleash bloodshed, sectarian violence and regional instability - the very things that the invasion and occupation themselves have produced.’
      • ‘The press charged that the statement contained the same poisons that ignite sectarian strife.’
      • ‘Access to the school had been the focus of a bitter sectarian dispute last year lasting over four months.’
      • ‘The results exposed deepening sectarian polarisation between nationalist and unionist voters.’
      • ‘Their focus has been on Kashmir or on domestic sectarian violence.’
      • ‘But when sectarian dominance in any form has reared its ugly head, things have been bad.’
      • ‘Chomsky himself has made some of the most deplorable, petty and doubtless sectarian attacks of any leftist I know.’
      • ‘On Baghdad's streets, rumors are rife about renegade ministry of interior death squads, carrying out sectarian killings.’
      • ‘And as political questions move down the agenda, so cultural and purely sectarian conflicts have risen to the fore.’
      • ‘He and his gang were planning to carry out random sectarian assassinations on Catholics in Belfast.’
      • ‘Even amid the worst sectarian violence, boxers here had a kind of diplomatic immunity.’
      • ‘At least 300 people have been killed in the Poso sectarian conflicts.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, three police officers were injured when sectarian rioting erupted on the streets of north Belfast on Sunday night.’
      • ‘Sectarian conflict is the deliberate consequence of foreign intervention.’
      • ‘Where sectarian activity can be proven among a club's support you suspend the club's licence.’
      • ‘Random sectarian killings slowed and more IRA men were bumped off.’
      • ‘Had she ever been involved in any sectarian conflict when she was growing up?’
      • ‘The IRA carried out retaliatory sectarian murders.’
      • ‘I agree that sectarian clashes are a curse and there is need to bring these to an end.’
    2. 1.2Rigidly following the doctrines of a sect or other group.
      ‘the sectarian Bolshevism advocated by Moscow’
      • ‘Each religion educates its young in a sectarian way, for religionists believe that to learn one specific path is sufficient and necessary.’
      • ‘By implication, black feminism is cast as sectarian in comparison with radical or socialist feminism.’
      • ‘We are still in the process of ensuring that this armament is not sectarian in nature.’
      • ‘Furthermore, a significant percentage of those organizations have been pervasively sectarian and used religious criteria in their hiring.’
      factional, schismatic, cliquish, clannish, partisan, parti pris
      doctrinaire, dogmatic, extreme, fanatical, rigid, inflexible, bigoted, hidebound, narrow-minded
      View synonyms


  • 1A member of a sect.

    ‘a Jewish sectarian who preached the redemption of the Gentiles’
    • ‘Some time later he was arrested as a " religious sectarian " and put in prison.’
    • ‘This, and not the subventions of hegemonic states, is what will ultimately defeat both the secular tyrannies and the religious sectarians.’
    • ‘Many colonists wondered if the Protestant sectarians might not be right.’
    • ‘One of the right's political accomplishments is bringing together diverse, once-hostile sectarians.’
    separatist, dissenter, dissident, nonconformist, free thinker, renegade, recusant, schismatic, revisionist
    unbeliever, sceptic, agnostic, atheist, non-theist
    zealot, young turk, extremist, radical, activist, militant
    bigot, dogmatist, partisan, devotee
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A person who rigidly follows the doctrines of a sect or other group.
      ‘he became a target as a sectarian who had apparently denounced one liberal-minded reformer as ‘degenerate’’
      • ‘But Allende's radical sectarians must stand trial too, and for the same moral reasons.’
      • ‘Unlike his predecessor, who was seen as ecumenical, Benedict is seen as a sectarian who will not reach out to other religions.’
      • ‘Even after the Reformation extreme sectarians despised Anglican clergy as ‘magicians, sorcerers, enchanters’.’
      • ‘The, Church of England, it said, is like Christ crucified between two thieves, Papists on one side and Nonconformist sectarians on the other.’
      • ‘It's not just the radical white left or sectarians hawking papers for solidarity donations.’


Mid 17th century: from sectary + -an, reinforced by sect.