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[hoh-lee-er-th uh n-th ou] /ˈhoʊ li ər ðənˈðaʊ/
obnoxiously pious; sanctimonious; self-righteous.
a person who is obnoxiously pious or self-righteous.
Origin of holier-than-thou
First recorded in 1910-15 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for holier-than-thou
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I've watched the lot of you Cavendishes, with yer stuck-up 'holier-than-thou' ways.

    The Lone Ranger Rides Fran Striker
  • But I don't want you to think you can get away with any holier-than-thou stuff.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • There's going to be one house in this scandal-mongering town to-night that isn't going to spring the holier-than-thou.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • To one who goes to Spain in the holier-than-thou attitude, she is dumb and repellent,—she who can be so eloquent!

    Heroic Spain Elizabeth Boyle O'Reilly
  • Happily the generations of cant and holier-than-thou are passing, and we are looking history more honestly in the face.

    Heroic Spain Elizabeth Boyle O'Reilly
  • This has been tried out successfully in many industrial enterprises, with happy surprise for the holier-than-thou skeptics.


    Lincoln Clarke Andrews
  • There was no assumption of godliness nor conceit, no holier-than-thou smirk about the child.

    The Search

    Grace Livingston Hill
  • I don't want your pity or your charity or any of your holier-than-thou butting in—all I want's just to be let alone.

    Linda Lee, Incorporated Louis Joseph Vance
Word Origin and History for holier-than-thou

as an adjectival phrase in reference to supercilious sanctimony attested by 1888, American English. The text is in Isaiah lxv:5.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for holier-than-thou



Condescending; thinking one is superior to others: holier-than-thou attitude gains him no friends

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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