Difference Between Sacred and Profane

Sacred vs Profane

Sacred and profane are words that have traditionally been used in connection with religion. Today, the word profane has found many more uses and is loosely applied to curse words, or anything that is vulgar and offensive. Sacred on the other hand has always been used for all things holy and religious. They are in effect antonyms that are very commonly used in daily life. This article will explain the contexts and usages of these words in detail.

The word profane comes from Latin word profanus (pro-before, and fanum-temple). This means that all things that are holy are opposite of profane. Profane was earlier used to refer to all unholy things. It was also used for ordinary things, times and places. When you look at the structure of a church, it looks like any other structure made of concrete. But it is only when you step inside that you get a sense of holiness. This is why everything associated with church or all other religions is considered to be sacred. This feeling of awe and reverence has somewhat been mitigated in modern times and we get this feeling only on special occasions every year when we are celebrating any religious festival. For example, on Easter we honor the sacred times of Jesus while on Christmas, we honor the time when Jesus was born. Somehow we are liberated from the profane (ordinary) on these sacred days and are reminded of the times that were holy.

The word holidays has originated from the word holy so that we could feel the sacred on these days. Though sacred has retained much of its earliest connotations, profane has become a generic term to describe all things that are not only unholy but also vulgar or obscene.

In brief:

Sacred vs Profane

• The words sacred and profane are opposites or antonyms

• In earlier times sacred referred to all things holy while profane referred to all things unholy or ordinary.

• Today profane has become broader and includes all things that are vulgar or obscene