AskDefine | Define parochial

Dictionary Definition

parochial adj
1 relating to or supported by or located in a parish; "parochial schools"
2 narrowly restricted in outlook or scope; "little sympathy with parocial mentality"; "insular attitudes toward foreigners" [syn: insular]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Anglo-Norman parochial and its source late parochialis, an alteration of paroecialis ‘of a church provice’, from paroecia, from Hellenistic Greek ‘stay in a foreign land’, later ‘community, diocese’, from ‘neighbouring, neighbour’, from ‘para-’ + ‘house’.


  • italbrac RP /pəˈɹəʊkɪəl/
  • italbrac US /pəˈɻoʊkɪəl/


  1. Pertaining to a parish.
  2. Characterized by an unsophisticated focus on local concerns to the exclusion of wider contexts; elementary in scope or outlook.
    The use of simple, primary colors in the painting gave it a parochial feel
    The United States has been accused of taking a parochial view, of not being interested in international matters.


Pertaining to a parish
Characterized by an unsophisticated focus on local concerns

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Parochialism means being provincial, being narrow in scope, or considering only small sections of an issue.
Like in countries where every village and every part of town has a parish ([Late] Latin: parochia) — with typically locally organized circles, events, etc — possibly having little attention for what goes on in the much larger Church that mainly has more, other, and perhaps more important things in mind: focused on the local scale (thus within a particular point of view), by having (too) little contact with the broader outside, showing meagre interest for and possibly knowledge about the universal scale.
Parochialism does relate directly to culture and economics in regard to a local culture or geographic area's government making decisions based on personal relationships instead of uniformity. This supports and/or leads to governmental corruption and deters real economic health and outside investment. Parochialism reinforces an insular society and economy, many times to the detriment of the citizens who are the willful victims of parochialism, their local prejudices and regional attitudes played upon by politicians of all colours.

Examples of parochialism in politics

Whereas many people assume that parochialism is found to a great extent in developing countries (third world), it is also a problem in many developed countries including the United States, Ireland, Canada and Australia. In a change of curriculum on February 7th, 2007, Harvard University said that one of the main purposes of the major curriculum overhaul (the first in three decades) was to overcome American "parochialisms".


The politics of the smallest state in the Australian Federation, Tasmania, provides a clear example of parochialism, both at the state level, with the north/south divide while also strongly influencing the interaction of Tasmanian leaders with their mainland counterparts.


The interests of Canadian provinces are often dubbed "parochial", in that they often conflict with each other and those of the federal government. For example, Canadian foreign policy is said to be constrained by the parochial economic and material interests of the provincial governments. The emergence of regionally based political parties at the federal level, such as the Bloc Québécois and the former Reform Party, has also helped promote parochial regional interests within Parliament.


Since the foundation of the state in 1922 and prior to independence, Ireland has had a highly parochial political system. The nature of the electoral system in Ireland and the weak powers of Local government reinforce parochial voting patterns and politics. The fact that to be elected to Dáil Éireann one can do so on a small number of votes per head of population compared to most other developed states turns the politics of General elections into an aggregate of parochial issues.
Fianna Fáil have benefited greatly by playing parochial politics and are the 2nd longest serving party in government in a European country.
parochial in German: Parochie
parochial in Italian: Campanilismo

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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