Etymology
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unholy (adj.)

Old English unhalig, "impious, profane, wicked," from un- (1) "not" + halig (see holy). Similar formation in Middle Dutch onheilich, Old Norse uheilagr, Danish unhellig, Swedish ohelig. In reference to actions, it is attested from late 14c. Colloquial sense of "awful, dreadful" is recorded from 1842.

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profane (v.)

"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.

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sinful (adj.)

Old English synnfull "full of sin, wicked, unholy, contrary to the laws of God;" see sin (n.) + -ful. The weakened sense of "contrary to propriety or decency" is from 1863. Related: Sinfully; sinfulness.

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profanation (n.)

"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.)).

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profane (adj.)

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.

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