Pariah vs piranha

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Pariah and piranha are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation but have very different definitions. They are often confused. We will examine the definitions of the words pariah and piranha, their etymology, and some examples of their use in sentences.

A pariah is an outcast, someone who is ostracized, someone no one else will socialize with. A pariah is someone who is rejected or is deemed socially unacceptable. For instance, a child molester is generally considered a pariah. The word pariah is derived from the Tamil word paraiyar, which means drummer. Tamil is a language that is spoken in India and Sri Lanka.

A piranha is a type of South American fish that is well known for its ferocity. Piranhas have a multitude of sharp teeth and are aggressive predators. The word piranha is sometimes used figuratively to describe someone who is aggressive. The word piranha is derived from the Brazilian Tupi language expression pira nya, which means biting fish.


After being long-time market pariahs, British stocks have been slowly gaining favor from both the buy and sell sides in recent weeks. (Bloomberg News)

These days, the poor pink pariah is widely maligned by mixologists, who (not without cause) turn up their noses at many vodka-based drinks — to say nothing of flavored vodka — as well as the pre-mixed sweetness of Ocean Spray. (The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Years ago, scientists discovered that piranhas lose all of the teeth on one side of their mouth at once and regrow them, presumably to replace dulled teeth with brand new sharp spears for gnawing on prey. (The Wallowa County Chieftan)

This isn’t the first time a Bond-born spin-off has been floated, only to sink without trace into the piranha tank. (Esquire Magazine)