Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Feigning piety or righteousness: "a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg that looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity” ( Mark Twain).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Making a show of being morally better than others, especially hypocritically pious.
  • adj. Holy, devout.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Possessing sanctimony; holy; sacred; saintly.
  • adj. Making a show of sanctity; affecting saintliness; hypocritically devout or pious.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Possessing sanctity; sacred; holy; saintly; religious.
  • Making a show of sanctity; affecting the appearance of sanctity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. excessively or hypocritically pious

Etymologies

sanctimony +‎ -ous (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • You refer to the sanctimonious speech by Obama in Cairo two years ago.

    Letters: Obama's empty rhetoric on Israel

  • Such criticism, though a bit sanctimonious, is reasonably well grounded: in the years since an ailing Yeltsin appointed him Russia's president, on December 31, 1999, Putin has in numerous ways tried to reassert Kremlin control over the country.

    The Accidental Autocrat

  • The low point of self defeating activism came at a Radio City Music Hall fundraiser at which Chevy Chase said the president had the intellect of an "egg timer" John Mellencamp called Bush a "cheap thug" and Meryl Streep, in a performance that brings new meaning to the word sanctimonious, belittled the president's faith.

    Hullabaloo

  • Lenz case so "sanctimonious" -- and dishonest -- as to suggest that he has never read the YouTube Terms of Service or discerned why a lawyer should not shriek that corporations "flout" their legal obligations by hiring third-parties who specialize in executing those legal obligations (p. 169-170).

    The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

  • Then, when it’s proven once again, we sit back in sanctimonious self-righteousness shocked, absolutely shocked, about humankind’s venality.

    The Early Word: Obama Meets the Press - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

  • "Occasionally, for my benefit, she would recall sanctimonious preachers who would dismiss three quarters of the world's people as ignorant heathens doomed to spend the afterlife in eternal damnation ¾ and who in the next breath would insist that the earth and the heavens had been created in seven days, all geologic and astrophysical evidence to the contrary."

    Greg Barrett: Obama's speech bridges the Abrahamic faiths

  • Occasionally, for my benefit, she would recall the sanctimonious preachers who would dismiss three-quarters of the world's people as ignorant heathens doomed to spend the afterlife in eternal damnation-and who in the same breath would insist that the earth and the heavens had been created in seven days, all geologic and astrophysical evidence to the contrary.

    The Audacity of Hope

  • "Barry isn't exactly what you would call sanctimonious," admitted the lawyer, with a dry smile.

    Viola Gwyn

  • Before his marriage, Mr. Weld lodged, on principle, in a colored family in New York, even submitting to the inconvenience of having no heat in his room in winter, and bearing with singular charity and patience what Sarah calls the sanctimonious pride and Pharisaical aristocracy of his hosts.

    The Grimke Sisters

  • Mr Bercow was once dubbed a "sanctimonious dwarf" by Simon Burns, the health minister.

    Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

Comments

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  • Oh, better far to live and die
    Under the brave black flag I fly,
    Than play a sanctimonious part,
    With a pirate head and a pirate heart.

    -- W.S. Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance

    August 20, 2008