3

As far as I know "parochial" means of or relating to a church/parish. My dictionary (and Google, or that matters, also says so.)

But recently, I've heard it also means "narrow-minded" (or something similar). Can anyone tell if this is true? I know one should know better than to ask WHY a word means what it means, but I really want to know how/why "parochial" could mean "narrow-minded".

Thanks,

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, choster, Hellion, tchrist, Rory Alsop Feb 4 '14 at 10:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – FumbleFingers, choster, Hellion, tchrist, Rory Alsop
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Back in 9th grade, I mistakenly thought that the "parochial school" Sylvia Browne went to was unsophisticated. I think I got the wrong definition from my dictionary when I looked up the word "parochial"! – Double U Jan 31 '14 at 3:39
  • This answer may help. english.stackexchange.com/a/56956/14666 – Kris Jan 31 '14 at 6:46
  • General Reference Sense 3 - probably the most commonly-used today - Narrowly restricted in scope or outlook; provincial: parochial attitudes. – FumbleFingers Jan 31 '14 at 13:15
5

A parish would be one of the smallest divisions of territory, so someone with a parochial view would be focused on small bits rather than the overall picture.

"Provincial" can be used in a similar way.

  • 1
    I was thinking the same thing about provincial. – Bradd Szonye Jan 31 '14 at 3:49
  • Please see my comment & link at OP. – Kris Jan 31 '14 at 6:47
1

In Collins (under US usage) this is the first definition for parochial

narrow in outlook or scope; provincial

the second being

of or relating to a parish or parishes

Merriam-Webster, on the other hand offers this:

  1. of or relating to a church parish
  2. of or relating to a parish as a unit of local government
  3. confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish: limited in range or scope (as to a narrow area or region): provincial, narrow

Cambridge lists the two meanings as separate entries

  • parochial adj OF A CHURCH
  • parochial adj LIMITED

As to why, I like Spehro Pefhany's explanation.

On a personal note, during a sermon in which the priest admonished the public to become involved in some action, my 10 year old brother whispered to my father "We're not public, we're Catholic (with a capital C)!" believing the school attendance distinction (we were Catholic school kids, not public schoolers) carried over into all aspects of life.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.