"desecrate, treat (holy things) with irreverence," late 14c., prophanen, from Old French profaner, prophaner (13c.) and directly from Latin profanare (in Medieval Latin often prophanare) "to desecrate, render unholy, violate," from profanus "unholy, not consecrated" (see profane (adj.)). Related: Profaned; profaning.
mid-15c., prophane, "un-ecclesiastical, secular, not devoted to sacred purposes, unhallowed," from Old French prophane, profane (12c.) and directly from Latin profanus (in Medieval Latin often prophanus) "unholy, not sacred, not consecrated;" of persons "not initiated" (whence, in Late Latin, "ignorant, unlearned"), also "wicked, impious."
According to Lewis & Short, de Vaan, etc., this is from the phrase pro fano, literally "out in front of the temple" (here perhaps with a sense of "not admitted into the temple (with the initiates)," from pro "before" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before") + fano, ablative of fanum "temple" (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts). The sense of "irreverent toward God or holy things" is from 1550s. Related: Profanely.
"act of violating sacred things or treating them with contempt or irreverence," 1550s, from French profanation (Old French prophanation, 15c.) or directly from Late Latin profanationem (nominative profanatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of profanare "render unholy, deprive of sanctity" (see profane (adj.)).
c. 1600, "profaneness, quality of being profane, profane language or conduct," from Late Latin profanitas "profaneness," from Latin profanus (see profane (adj.)). Extended sense of "foul language" is from Old Testament commandment against "profaning" the name of the Lord. Apparently a rare word before 19c.
Blasphemy, Profanity, agree in expressing the irreverent use of words, but the former is the stronger, and the latter the wider. Profanity is language irreverent toward God or holy things, covering especially all oaths that, literally interpreted, treat lightly the attributes or acts of God. Blasphemy is generally more direct, intentional, and defiant in its impiety, and is directed toward the most sacred things in religion. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
*dhēs-, Proto-Indo-European root forming words for religious concepts. Possibly an extension of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put."
It forms all or part of: apotheosis; atheism; atheous; Dorothy; enthusiasm; fair (n.) "a stated market in a town or city;" fanatic; ferial; feast; fedora; -fest; festal; festival; festive; festoon; Festus; fete; fiesta; henotheism; monotheism; pantheism; pantheon; polytheism; profane; profanity; Thea; -theism; theist; theo-; theocracy; theodicy; Theodore; Theodosia; theogony; theology; theophany; Theophilus; theosophy; theurgy; tiffany; Timothy.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek theos "god;" Latin feriae "holidays," festus "festive," fanum "temple."
Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.
It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.
late 14c., "ceremonially unclean, profane;" c. 1400, "rendered impure or unclean," past-participle adjective from pollute (v.). Meaning "drunk" is from 1912, American English slang; ecological sense is by 1888.
mid-15c., sacrilegiose, "committing sacrilege, guilty of sacrilege," from Latin sacrilegiosum, from sacrilegium (see sacrilege). The sense of "profane, impious, involving sacrilege" is by 1620s. Earlier as a noun, "one who commits a sacrilege" (early 14c.). Related: Sacrilegiously; sacrilegiousness.
Middle English cursen, from Old English cursian, "to wish evil to; to excommunicate," from the source of curse (n.). Intransitive meaning "swear profanely, use blasphemous or profane language" is from early 13c. (compare swear (v.)). The sense of "blight with malignant evils" is from 1590s. Related: Cursed; cursing.