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

  • n. The act of anointing as part of a religious, ceremonial, or healing ritual.
  • n. An ointment or oil; a salve.
  • n. Something that serves to soothe; a balm.
  • n. Affected or exaggerated earnestness, especially in choice and use of language.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a salve or ointment
  • n. a religious or ceremonial anointing
  • n. a balm or something that soothes
  • n. a smug, exaggerated use of language; smarminess

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of anointing, smearing, or rubbing with an unguent, oil, or ointment, especially for medical purposes, or as a symbol of consecration.
  • n. That which is used for anointing; an unguent; an ointment; hence, anything soothing or lenitive.
  • n. Divine or sanctifying grace.
  • n. That quality in language, address, or the like, which excites emotion; especially, strong devotion; religious fervor and tenderness; sometimes, a simulated, factitious, or unnatural fervor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of anointing, smearing, or rubbing with an unguent, ointment, or oil.
  • n. Especially— Anointing as a symbol of consecration, dedication, or appointment to an important office. The practice of unction in religious ceremouials existed in the Christian church at a very early day, as well as in the Jewish church, and has been continued to the present time in the Roman Catholic, Greek, and some other churches. In Christian usage it includes the unction of catechumens both before and after baptism, of candidates at confirmation, of the clergy at ordination, of the sick, of kings at their coronation, and of various articles dedicated to a sacred use. The practice is not continued in Protestant churches. See chrism, and holy oil (under oil).
  • n. Anointing for medical purposes.
  • n. That which is used for anointing; an unguent; an ointment; a salve.
  • n. Hence Anything that is soothing or lenitive.
  • n. In speech, that quality in the words used, tone of expression, or mode of address which excites devotion, fervor, tenderness, sympathy, and the like in the hearer; especially, those qualities which induce religious fervor and tenderness.
  • n. Emotional warmth; gush; specifically, simulated fervor, devotion, or sympathy; counterfeited sentiment; nauseous sentimentality.

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

  • n. smug self-serving earnestness
  • n. semisolid preparation (usually containing a medicine) applied externally as a remedy or for soothing an irritation
  • n. anointing as part of a religious ceremony or healing ritual
  • n. excessive but superficial compliments given with affected charm


Middle English, from Latin ūnctiō, ūnctiōn-, from ūnctus, past participle of unguere, to anoint.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.