Secular vs sacred

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Secular and sacred are two words that many find confusing. We will examine the difference between the definitions of secular and sacred, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Secular is an adjective that describes something that does not have any connection to church matters or religious matters. A physical item such as an office building may be secular, as well as an institution such as a public school system. Secular does not necessarily have a negative connotation, though to some extremely religious people the word secular does have a negative connotation. Secular is derived from the Latin word saecularis, which means worldly. Related words are secularly and secularization.

Sacred is an adjective that describes something holy, something religious or connected to God. Something sacred deserves reverence, or at least respect as something that others consider to be holy. A physical item such as a holy shrine may be considered sacred, as well as an institution such as a particular religious system. Sacred is also used sometimes in a metaphorical sense, to describe something that is too valuable or deserves too much respect to be tampered with. The word sacred is derived from the Latin word sacrare, which means holy. Related words are sacredly and sacredness.


As ownership of these buildings passes on to secular institutions, their preservation has given developers, entrepreneurs and architects an opportunity to change the cultural and economic landscape of cities. (Forbes Magazine)

But all tithes don’t necessarily go to the church, with some Christians believing they can tithe to charities, including secular ones, according to recently released findings by LifeWay Research. (The Christian Post)

A sacred pipe given as a peace offering by a Dakota chief to a U.S. soldier has been returned to the tribe by an anonymous donor who paid twice what it was expected to bring at a recent auction. (The Minneapolis Star Tribune)

We know that the Chemehuevi people occupied these caves for centuries, considering them sacred and used them for ceremonies as witnessed by the blackened ceilings from their ancient fires. (The San Diego Reader)