This week’s Wednesday Word came from a conversation I had with my husband last night. He used the word piranha when he meant pariah. I corrected him and told him that piranha is that fish with teeth.
Of course, he asked, “What is pariah?” Which is the moment I realized that pariah is one of those words that I can spell and use in a sentence, but don’t really know what it means.
I looked up pariah in the Oxford English Dictionary (accessible via my library card) and learned that pariah means outcast and comes from a Tamil word related to the Indian caste system. The OED implies that our usage is dependent upon a 19th-century European’s understanding of the Indian caste system, which I took to mean that what I learned in school might not be an accurate representation of reality in India.
Check Kathy’s post for today to learn more words.