Printable Version
Pronunciation: pê-rok-ee-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Related to a parish or a district with its own church. 2. The membership of such a church. 3. Interested things only relevant to one's parish or region, not interested in matters outside that region, narrow-minded, provincial.

Notes: I've often wondered how parish and parochial could have derived from the same word. The Word History today will explain that mystery. The adverb that comes free with today's Good Word, of course, is parochially. The meaning of the noun for this word, parochialism, is limited to the third meaning, "narrow-minded". We have a verb, too, parochialize, which can mean to bring under the jurisdiction of the parish, but more often means "to make or perceive as parochial" in the third sense above.

In Play: Since they are run by religious organizations, parochial schools tend to enforce stricter behavior rules than public or private schools: "Hiram was expelled from his parochial school for violating the dress code and engaging in a mutual act of affection with a female student." Now, the size of the region involved in parochialism in the third sense is variable: "The parochial concerns of the negotiators made a multilateral trade agreement impossible."

Word History: Parochial is the adjective accompanying parish "district with its own church; members of such a church". It comes, as does parish, from Anglo-French paroche, Old French paroisse, and beyond that, from Late Latin parochia "a diocese". Parochia is an alteration of Late Greek paroikia "a diocese or parish", from paroikos "a temporary visitor", which in classical Greek meant "neighbor", from para- "near" + oikos "house, home". For the origins of para see paradox. The Greek word for "house" comes from Proto-Indo-European weik- "clan" from which Latin derived villa "country house" and vicus "quarter, neighborhood". The former underlies village and villain. Villain was converted to its current meaning by Middle English villein "feudal serf working on a villa, a coarse person". Vicus went into the making of vicinity, vicarious, and vicar. (We now thank Jeanne Henry not only for recommending today's Good Word, but lacking the parochialism that might have prevented her from suggesting it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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