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[prig] /prɪg/
a person who displays or demands of others pointlessly precise conformity, fussiness about trivialities, or exaggerated propriety, especially in a self-righteous or irritating manner.
Origin of prig1
1560-70; formerly, coxcomb; perhaps akin to prink
Related forms
priggish, adjective
priggishly, adverb
priggishness, noun
unpriggish, adjective
prude, puritan, bluenose.


[prig] /prɪg/
verb (used with object), prigged, prigging.
Chiefly British. to steal.
verb (used without object), prigged, prigging.
Scot. and North England. to haggle or argue over price.
British Informal. to beg or entreat; ask a favor.
Chiefly British. a thief.
1505-15; orig. thieves' cant; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for prig
Historical Examples
  • Would a prig have set a girl to care for him, and then desert her for the sake of a vision which in turn deserted him?

    Twos and Threes G. B. Stern
  • It shows you are not yet the prig you would have folks believe.

  • He was as little of a "poser" or of a "rotter" as he was of a prig, and there was not a drop of bad blood in his veins.

    A Letter Book George Saintsbury
  • But a man who can feel horror at such a thing as this is a prig in religion.

    Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope
  • It rankled more when she realised that there was nothing about the speaker to suggest the trifler or the prig.

    By Right of Purchase Harold Bindloss
  • But then his wife is a prig too, and I do not see why they should not suit each other.

    Kept in the Dark Anthony Trollope
  • And she did not wish to appear in the light of a prig (that had probably been his impression of her) again so soon.

    Quisant Anthony Hope
  • There was not to be found among them what in England is known as a prig.

    Memoirs Charles Godfrey Leland
  • Madame was not perfection at seventeen, and he strongly suspects that he was a prig.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • Conscious superiority is the note of the prig; and we have the right to dread it.

    Joyous Gard Arthur Christopher Benson
British Dictionary definitions for prig


a person who is smugly self-righteous and narrow-minded
Derived Forms
priggery, priggishness, noun
priggish, adjective
priggishly, adverb
priggism, noun
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin


verb prigs, prigging, prigged
another word for steal
another word for thief
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prig

"precisian in speech or manners," 1753, originally in reference to theological scruples (1704), of unknown origin; earlier appearances of the same word meaning "dandy, fop" (1670s), "thief" (c.1600; in form prigger recorded from 1560s) could be related, as could thieves' cant prig "a tinker" (1560s).

A p[rig] is wise beyond his years in all the things that do not matter. A p. cracks nuts with a steam hammer: that is, calls in the first principles of morality to decide whether he may, or must, do something of as little importance as drinking a glass of beer. On the whole, one may, perhaps, say that all his different characteristics come from the combination, in varying proportions, of three things--the desire to do his duty, the belief that he knows better than other people, & blindness to the difference in value between different things. ["anonymous essay," quoted in Fowler, 1926]
Related: Priggery.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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