Try Our Apps


The saddest words


[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. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for holier-than-thou
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • 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
  • I've watched the lot of you Cavendishes, with yer stuck-up 'holier-than-thou' ways.

    The Lone Ranger Rides Fran Striker
  • 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
  • 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
  • She shrank from the holier-than-thou attitude; yet to remain quiet might be taken as approval.

    The Mystery of Arnold Hall Helen M. Persons
  • This has been tried out successfully in many industrial enterprises, with happy surprise for the holier-than-thou skeptics.

    Manpower Lincoln Clarke Andrews
  • But I don't want you to think you can get away with any holier-than-thou stuff.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • There was no assumption of godliness nor conceit, no holier-than-thou smirk about the child.

    The Search Grace Livingston Hill
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
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for holier-than-thou

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for holier

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for holier-than-thou