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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
First recorded in 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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for priggish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Perhaps it is priggish of me, but I feel that if I'm mean in one thing I may be mean in another.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine
  • He was deep in a business discussion with his priggish son-in-law.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit George Randolph Chester
  • He was selfish and priggish and worse, he was piggish—A regular beast of a brute.

  • She watched Paul growing irritable, priggish, and melancholic.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • Why, how absurd and priggish and offensive such a course of action would be?

    The Dictator

    Justin McCarthy
  • They would say she was mean and priggish, for she might have told Berta as easily as not.

    Beatrice Leigh at College

    Julia Augusta Schwartz
  • She had boasted of her success; and to be successful was merely to be priggish.

    The Making of a Prig Evelyn Sharp
  • What chance is there for any one with priggish tendencies in a world like ours?

    The Making of a Prig Evelyn Sharp
  • He was not in the least priggish and gave himself no sacerdotal airs.

    Painted Veils James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for priggish


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 priggish



"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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