Freemasons use a lot of old-English in their rituals and conversations. One example of this is the term profane that is used when referring to someone who is not a mason. Unfortunately the use of the word by the average English-speaker has changed over the years. Today it is considered by non-masons to be derogatory. It is commonly understood to mean disrespectful, irreverent,  obscene or vulgar.

Clearly though that is not the intended meaning as it is understood by Freemasons. The word is derived from the Latin “pro” meaning before, and “fanum” which means temple. Thus, someone profane is one who is “outside the temple”, or uninitiated.

It might be reasonable for Masons today to only use this term exclusively inside their own lodges, or when conversing with other Freemasons, in order to avoid unintended potential offense of non-Masons. Therefore, caution is advised.

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