[hoh-lee-er-thuh n-th ou]


obnoxiously pious; sanctimonious; self-righteous.


a person who is obnoxiously pious or self-righteous.

Origin of holier-than-thou

First recorded in 1910–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for holier-than-thou

Contemporary Examples of holier-than-thou

Historical Examples of holier-than-thou

  • I've watched the lot of you Cavendishes, with yer stuck-up 'holier-than-thou' ways.

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


    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.


    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

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