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[pek-snif-ee-uh n] /pɛkˈsnɪf i ən/
adjective, (often lowercase)
hypocritically and unctuously affecting benevolence or high moral principles.
Sometimes, Pecksniffish.
Origin of Pecksniffian
1850-55; named after Seth Pecksniff, character in Martin Chuzzlewit, a novel (1843) by Dickens; see -ian
Related forms
Pecksniffery, Pecksniffianism, Pecksniffism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Pecksniffian
Historical Examples
  • He was, after a fashion, a Pecksniffian man, this Henry Ham.

    The Sea Bride Ben Ames Williams
  • I considered for a while, and then with a Pecksniffian air of benignant charity offered him "two dollar!"

  • Piety was certainly hers, in a Pecksniffian sense, but the commercial instinct leavened the loaf.

    Wanted: A Cook Alan Dale
  • But there is something quite pestilently Pecksniffian about shrinking from a hard task on the plea that it is not hard enough.

    A Chesterton Calendar G. K. Chesterton
  • And even when I come to feel a final incompatibility of temper, Pecksniff was not so Pecksniffian as he has since become.

    Utopia of Usurers and other Essays Gilbert Keith Chesterton
  • Of course, one should be cautious here, so as not to seem merely puritanical or Pecksniffian.

    Literature in the Elementary School Porter Lander MacClintock
  • The conclusion was couched in that vein of Pecksniffian benevolence of which we hear so much in life.

  • He posed as the Pecksniffian leader of Reform and the reform he advocated always meant the lash for the man who toils.

    The Fall of a Nation Thomas Dixon
  • At all events, Philadelphia is the most Pecksniffian of American cities, and thus probably leads the world.

    The American Language Henry L. Mencken
British Dictionary definitions for Pecksniffian


affecting benevolence or high moral principles
Word Origin
C19: after Seth Pecksniff, character in Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit (1843)
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 Pecksniffian

1851, after Mr. Pecksniff, unctuous hypocrite in Dickens' "Martin Chuzzlewit" (1844).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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