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[sangk-tuh-moh-nee-uh s] /ˌsæŋk təˈmoʊ ni əs/
making a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.:
They resented his sanctimonious comments on immorality in America.
Obsolete. holy; sacred.
Origin of sanctimonious
1595-1605; sanctimony + -ous
Related forms
sanctimoniously, adverb
sanctimoniousness, noun
nonsanctimonious, adjective
nonsanctimoniously, adverb
nonsanctimoniousness, noun
unsanctimonious, adjective
unsanctimoniously, adverb
unsanctimoniousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sanctimonious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some of the most cunning fellows known to the police of late have had quite a sanctimonious appearance.

    Under the Chinese Dragon F. S. Brereton
  • If ever I ran afoul of a sanctimonious pair of hypocrites they're the pair.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • This contriver of miracles, of a countenance at once sanctimonious, artful and sly, preceded other prelates carrying banners.

  • He saw that a year at Dunwood House had produced a sanctimonious prig.

    The Longest Journey E. M. Forster
  • The doctor raised his eyes to heaven, and clasped his hands over his waistcoat with a sanctimonious sigh.

British Dictionary definitions for sanctimonious


affecting piety or making a display of holiness
Derived Forms
sanctimoniously, adverb
sanctimoniousness, noun
sanctimony, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin sanctimonia sanctity, from sanctus holy
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 sanctimonious

c.1600 (in "Measure for Measure," with the disparaging sense "making a show of sanctity, affecting an appearance of holiness"), from sanctimony + -ous. The un-ironic, literal sense was used occasionally in English from c.1600 to c.1800. Related: Sanctimoniously; sanctimoniousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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