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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 priggishness
Historical Examples
  • I hope I am not a prig, and, whatever I am or am not, priggishness had no part in my feelings then.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Religion, indigestion, priggishness, or discontent may drape the panes.

    Practical Mysticism

    Evelyn Underhill
  • She had been proud of her virtue; and virtue, again, was only an equivalent for priggishness.

    The Making of a Prig Evelyn Sharp
  • The priggishness of this pleased him, and would probably amuse her.

    The Confounding of Camelia Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • It is an atmosphere impregnated with priggishness and a sense of superiority.

    Nonsenseorship G. G. Putnam and Others
  • My priggishness—talking so much about Truth and then—the things I do.

    The Duchess of Wrexe

    Hugh Walpole
  • Just a touch of priggishness here; but remember, Henry was young.

    The Call of the Town John Alexander Hammerton
  • It was not a rebuke for priggishness; it was the unpresentable statement of a fact.

    Simon the Jester William J. Locke
  • He found that perplexing suspicion of priggishness affecting him again.

    Marriage H. G. Wells
  • He was forcing me into an attitude of priggishness which I regretted.

    Paradise Garden George Gibbs
British Dictionary definitions for priggishness


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 priggishness



"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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