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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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for priggishness
Historical Examples
  • His exaltation is self-centred, is priggishness, his fall is unrestrained by any exterior obligation.

    God The Invisible King Herbert George Wells
  • Religion, indigestion, priggishness, or discontent may drape the panes.

    Practical Mysticism Evelyn Underhill
  • A man may be excused even such infamies of priggishness, but truly he ought not to go and write them down, especially to his son.

    Mental Efficiency Arnold Bennett
  • She had been proud of her virtue; and virtue, again, was only an equivalent for priggishness.

    The Making of a Prig Evelyn Sharp
  • A good chum prevents one becoming a prig, and there is nothing short of actual vice which is so hateful in a boy as priggishness.

    Boys Anonymous
  • The priggishness of this pleased him, and would probably amuse her.

    The Confounding of Camelia Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • It was not a rebuke for priggishness; it was the unpresentable statement of a fact.

    Simon the Jester William J. Locke
  • My priggishness—talking so much about Truth and then—the things I do.

    The Duchess of Wrexe Hugh Walpole
  • Every one of the things on that list mark a stage in Cecelia Anne's progress away from priggishness and toward health.

    New Faces Myra Kelly
  • Just a touch of priggishness here; but remember, Henry was young.

    The Call of the Town John Alexander Hammerton
British Dictionary definitions for priggishness


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 priggishness



"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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