Definition of profane in US English:



  • 1Relating or devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular rather than religious.

    ‘a talk that tackled topics both sacred and profane’
    • ‘Our attention is then drawn to the case of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel and the question of whether profane work is a stumbling block to spiritual depth.’
    • ‘Sin and damnation are downplayed, and the distinctions between heaven and earth, the profane and the sacred, God's grace and our efforts tend to be fudged.’
    • ‘The Church, however, has been unable to eradicate the blend of sacred and profane, spiritual and sensuous, life within death, which the East Slavs had inherited from their pagan ancestors.’
    • ‘We are by nature incurably drawn to ritual in the realms of both the sacred and the profane.’
    • ‘Without considering arguments to the contrary, he asserts that a hierarchical ordering of reality and a division between the sacred and the profane are essential to the religious worldview.’
    • ‘Within taboo and transgression the interplay between the profane and the sacred is a dangerous one.’
    • ‘He was as interested in the sacred as in the profane, in devotion and deviation alike.’
    • ‘The culture is not wholly profane, but it has gifts to offer and wounds to heal.’
    • ‘He joined me from the cabin, offering a beer and various kinds of counsel, profane wisdom of the world.’
    • ‘It is convenient to reserve significant parts of the world as profane, and even ‘dirty,’ in order to preserve our ability to act in them without scruple.’
    • ‘Again, the composer suggests the reconciliation of sacred and profane, the religious and the sensual.’
    • ‘In most writings and interviews, the profane world is interpreted as a place of probation and is explained as an illusion or a bridge to other worlds.’
    • ‘Didn't the Buddha divide people into Aryans and the profane essentially saying that those who are Aryan follow the light and those who are profane follow the evil one?’
    • ‘I think what happens is we have these two tendencies, divine and diabolical, the sinner and the saint, the sacred and profane.’
    • ‘Among the Jews, all things are profane that we hold sacred; on the other hand, they regard as permissible what seems to us immoral…’
    • ‘Is Babel wholly profane and the Bible wholly holy?’
    • ‘In the name of tradition, authorities lay claim to the power to manage with mantras of expansive truth and clarity seldom attained in the profane world of experimental science.’
    • ‘Inscribing the most sacred symbol on something profane and worldly, such as money, works against the religious canons.’
    • ‘He says that we largely live in profane space now, and the best we can do is create ‘ceremonies’ that give the appearance of sacred space but not the reality.’
    • ‘As Mark Taylor puts it, ‘the death of God is not a simple negation but a complex process in which the divine becomes incarnate when the profane is grasped as sacred’.’
    secular, lay, non-religious, non-church, temporal, worldly, earthly
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    1. 1.1 (of a person) not initiated into religious rites or any esoteric knowledge.
      ‘he was an agnostic, a profane man’
      • ‘This is a very profane interpretation and shows a huge misunderstanding of the canon.’
      • ‘The profane person simply hasn't worked up a sweat trying to figure it out for himself.’
      • ‘Augustine was a renegade against his mother's religion; took profane mistresses and lapsed into Manichaeism, a religion whose dualism always had a strong appeal for him.’
      • ‘Milton reads as a blanket permission to Christians to divorce a heretical or idolatrous or grossly profane spouse.’
      • ‘For the profane audience, these meanings remain hidden.’
  • 2(of a person or their behavior) not respectful of orthodox religious practice; irreverent.

    ‘desecration of the temple by profane adolescents’
    • ‘If at that time humans were any less perverse, selfish, materialistic, profane, etc., than they had ever been, this should come as a great shock to all social historians.’
    • ‘It may be said that this movie is crude, profane, and even obscene at times - but so is war.’
    • ‘The questions can be completely anonymous and we encourage you to challenge the boundaries of the profane, the indecent and the naughty.’
    • ‘A profane act demeans both the perpetrator and the one who is acted upon by disrespecting the Divine Force residing in each.’
    • ‘Now after the accident, when it became apparent that he had changed, he's described as having become profane, irreverent, not showing much deference for his fellows.’
    • ‘As a Pagan I consider these things sacred, so to me this is truly profane behavior.’
    • ‘The Tamils in Singapore dismiss my plays as vulgar and profane, for, I subvert the images of the pseudo-Tamil culture.’
    • ‘He was easily the smartest, funniest, most annoying and most profane man I've been around.’
    • ‘These are obscene, indeed profane, images, though not nearly as obscene as the human actions they document.’
    • ‘That means demanding that they answer for their lies, hypocrisy and profane behavior, just as much as we must answer for ours.’
    irreverent, ungodly, godless, impious, disrespectful, irreligious, unbelieving, disbelieving, sacrilegious, idolatrous
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    1. 2.1 (of language) blasphemous or obscene.
      • ‘But he slowly recovered himself after some profane mutterings, reeled up the next flight of stairs, and finally deposited his well-soaked clay on the bed in his own room immediately over mine.’
      • ‘I don't think I've gotten any more profane and offensive, lately, that I can see, and I tend to talk in much the same way as I always have, about much the same sort of things.’
      • ‘California Congressman Doug Ose is sponsoring a bill that would require the FCC to define any use of eight dirty words as profane.’
      • ‘The characters are crude, profane gangsters who acknowledge only the class distinction of power.’
      • ‘Second, on an objective standard, Paul was hostile, aggressive, profane, rude, demeaning and intimidating.’
      • ‘Thirty years after Cohen, there's no excuse for police departments to have their officers arrest people for carrying allegedly profane signs in public.’
      • ‘Rizzo's language, which was hilariously profane, got cleaned up in print.’
      • ‘Black and partner Kyle Gass form a tongue-in-cheek rock band spouting lyrics as funny as they are profane.’
      • ‘Maybe we ought to have flashmobs where people gather to recite profane poetry…’
      • ‘The FCC, by law, must prohibit the utterance of ‘any obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio communication.’’
      • ‘The dialogue is quite profane, but it perfectly captures the mood of era.’
      • ‘The most profane swearer call refrain from his oaths, while in the presence of a person whom he fears, and to whom he knows it would be displeasing.’
      • ‘However, in court, Erin's surly manner and profane vocabulary do not endear her to the jury, which finds in the defendant's favor.’
      • ‘Letter writers gratuitously laced their responses with profane and vulgar language, as if it were a badge of honor.’
      • ‘When two foremen told him to ‘control himself,’ he quickly ‘became abusive and used obscene and profane language to both of them.’’
      • ‘All the anger and profane, obscene raileries come out in a torrent in one of Brando's most magnificent performances.’
      • ‘A. We strongly encourage that you refrain from any profane or indecent language.’
      • ‘And he had the habit of often making obscene, vulgar, or profane comments to other people he associated with, whether he knew them or not.’
      • ‘Often using obscene, offensive and profane language she succeeds in shocking the reader out of the middle-class complacency that numbs the senses of the public.’
      • ‘My favorite curse word, unlike the favorite curse word of most of my guests, is not obscene, it's not scatological, it's profane.’
      obscene, blasphemous, foul, vulgar, crude, filthy, dirty, smutty, coarse, rude, offensive, scurrilous, off colour, indecent, indecorous
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[with object]
  • Treat (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.

    ‘it was a serious matter to profane a tomb’
    • ‘Sellers take pride in their wealth and because of this, their holy places will be profaned.’
    • ‘When Elijah complained, ‘they have slain your prophets, they have profaned your altars and only I am left’, the Lord replied, ‘What are you doing here?’
    • ‘The thought came into his mind, as he was profaning the Lord's Day, that he must either be converted or sent to hell to be damned.’
    • ‘One of Christianity's holiest shrines was profaned by armed terrorists.’
    • ‘Jesus retorted that the priests had already profaned the holy day.’
    • ‘When the older man learns that Isaac plans to move to Israel and participate in the resettling of the land, he breaks out in anger and reproaches Isaac for profaning the sacred bequest of Israel.’
    • ‘Does it matter if John Wayne has profaned the Prophet?’
    • ‘By profaning the West's most sacred sites, by their bodily sacrifice, these new warriors hope to set in motion a war and thereby to create an impassible boundary between Islamic sacred space and the rest.’
    • ‘Mosques and churches have been profaned and desecrated by inebriated Israeli soldiers who see themselves as soldiers of David.’
    • ‘To have your religion distorted and ridiculed and then to have one of your culture's most deeply treasured expressions purposely profaned - well, it's not very pleasant.’
    • ‘Muslims and Israelis both claim that the temple mount in Jerusalem as their own sacred space, and thus see the presence of the other there as profaning it.’
    • ‘The mere presence of the US profanes those holy shrines.’
    • ‘All that was sacred has been profaned, as Marx put it, and it is not clear what, if anything, is sacred anymore.’
    • ‘When he violates this sacred trust, he not only profanes his entire cult, but threatens the fabric of international society.’
    • ‘Finally, of course, are those religious advocates who regard us as at best profaning the sacred, or at worst promoting the work of Satan.’
    • ‘I've received quite a few emails about the Darwin Fish, mostly to the effect that it takes a sacred Christian symbol and profanes it, and how would I like it if someone took a sacred Jewish symbol and profaned it.’
    • ‘Any profanity or harm to the parent is as if we've profaned God.’
    • ‘Thomas, they railed, had profaned a sacred text.’
    • ‘This was particularly manifest in the way that the Sabbath was profaned and family worship neglected.’
    • ‘Paul warns the Corinthians that if they eat and drink in an unworthy manner, they will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.’
    desecrate, violate, defile, treat with disrespect, debase, degrade, contaminate, pollute, taint
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘heathen’): from Old French prophane, from Latin profanus ‘outside the temple, not sacred’, from pro- (from Latin pro ‘before’) + fanum ‘temple’.