< /ˈkæθ əˌraɪ/, Cath·ars.

  1. (in medieval Europe) a member of any of several rigorously ascetic Christian sects maintaining a dualistic theology.

noun plural -ars, -ari (-ərɪ) or -arists

  1. a member of a Christian sect in Provence in the 12th and 13th centuries who believed the material world was evil and only the spiritual was good

1570s, “religious puritan” (implied in Catharism), from Medieval Latin Cathari “the Pure,” name taken by Novatians and other Christian sects, from New Testament Greek katharezein “to make clean,” from Greek katheros “pure.” Related: Catharist.

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