Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred.
  • adj. Nonreligious in subject matter, form, or use; secular: sacred and profane music.
  • adj. Not admitted into a body of secret knowledge or ritual; uninitiated.
  • adj. Vulgar; coarse.
  • transitive v. To treat with irreverence: profane the name of God.
  • transitive v. To put to an improper, unworthy, or degrading use; abuse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Unclean; ritually impure; unholy, desecrating a holy place or thing.
  • adj. Not sacred or holy, unconsecrated; relating to non-religious matters, secular.
  • adj. Treating sacred things with contempt, disrespect, irreverence, or undue familiarity; blasphemous, impious. Hence, specifically; Irreverent in language; taking the name of God in vain; given to swearing; blasphemous; as, a profane person, word, oath, or tongue.
  • n. A person or thing that is profane.
  • n. A person not a Mason.
  • v. To violate, as anything sacred; to treat with abuse, irreverence, obloquy, or contempt; to desecrate; to pollute; as, to profane the name of God; to profane the Scriptures, or the ordinance of God.
  • v. To put to a wrong or unworthy use; to make a base employment of; to debase; to abuse; to defile.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not sacred or holy; not possessing peculiar sanctity; unconsecrated; hence, relating to matters other than sacred; secular; -- opposed to sacred, religious, or inspired.
  • adj. Unclean; impure; polluted; unholy.
  • adj. Treating sacred things with contempt, disrespect, irreverence, or undue familiarity; irreverent; impious.
  • transitive v. To violate, as anything sacred; to treat with abuse, irreverence, obloquy, or contempt; to desecrate; to pollute
  • transitive v. To put to a wrong or unworthy use; to make a base employment of; to debase; to abuse; to defile.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not sacred, or not devoted to sacred purposes; not possessing any peculiar sanctity; unconsecrated; secular: as, a profane place; profane history (that is, history other than Biblical); profane authors.
  • Irreverent toward God or holy things; speaking or spoken, acting or acted, in manifest or implied contempt of sacred things; blasphemous: as, profane language; profane swearing.
  • Not initiated into certain religious rites; hence, of less dignity or standing; inferior; common.
  • Synonyms Temporal, unhallowed, unholy.
  • Impious, Atheistic, etc. (see irreligious); irreverent, sacrilegious.
  • To treat as if not sacred or deserving reverence; violate, as anything sacred; treat with irreverence, impiety, or contempt; pollute; desecrate.
  • To put to a wrong use; employ basely or unworthily.
  • To make known; make common: said of something confined to an initiated few.
  • To speak or behave blasphemously or profanely.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. not holy because unconsecrated or impure or defiled
  • adj. grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
  • v. corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality
  • adj. characterized by profanity or cursing
  • v. violate the sacred character of a place or language
  • adj. not concerned with or devoted to religion

Etymologies

Middle English prophane, from Old French, from Latin profānus, from prō fānō, in front of the temple : prō-, before, outside; see pro- + fānō, ablative of fānum, temple.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French prophane, from Latin profānus ("not religious, unclean"), from pro- ("before") + fānum ("temple"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word profane comes from the Latin profanus which literally means from the temple.

    The Profanity of the "Religious Wrong"

  • So even that which we call profane, even that which we call diabolical is a different face of the same divine intelligence.

    CNN Transcript Aug 17, 2007

  • An online video showed actor Christian Bale in profane rant against a crew member who had walked into a shot on a film set.

    Sorry for Rough Landing

  • Which words are exactly considered profane is still unclear, but the bill does have a list of qualifications for profanity including words or actions that are lewd, vulgar or indecent in nature.

    Boing Boing

  • I write sentences with out a fuck'in profane word in it all the time.

    Some things that creep me the fuck out

  • The spring season in New York is, happily and atypically, plump with demonstrations of such genre bending, with entrancingly wicked shows that extract the profane from the sacred and the rot from the pillars of society.

    February 2006

  • "That 's what I call a profane remark, Ellery Davenport," she said.

    Oldtown Folks

  • And the word profane is usually taken in the Scripture for the same with common; and consequently their contraries, holy and proper, in the kingdom of God must be the same also.

    Leviathan, or, The matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill

  • Today we received a shipment of a new item with a name profane enough that I can't use it here on Epinions.

    Epinions Recent Content for Home

  • Eyewitness News asked Mayor Nagin specifically what he felt Stacey Head said that he characterized as profane and race baiting, but he did not answer the question, saying only that his comments "were based upon a few different things, the tape and eyewitness reports."

    WWLTV.com Top Stories

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  • Etymologies

    Middle English prophane, from Old French, from Latin profānus, from prō fānō, in front of the temple : prō-, before, outside; see pro-1 + fānō, ablative of fānum, temple; see dhēs- in Indo-European roots.

    Isn't it amazing the heat generated when prop(what the h...)ane is released and alighted? It is an outside, marginal realm.

    March 1, 2012

  • what does sacred have to do with a great utterance of profanity; i.e. f@#k, $h&t

    May 3, 2011

  • "Sneerers and prophane wits may perhaps laugh at her first fright: yet my graver reader, when he considers the time of night, the summons from her bed, and the situation in which she found her master, will highly justify and applaud her conduct, unless the prudence which must be supposed to attend maidens at that period of life at which Mrs. Deborah had arrived, should a little lessen his admiration."
    - Henry Fielding, 'The History of Tom Jones'.

    September 8, 2009