[pek-snif-ee-uh n]

adjective (often lowercase)

hypocritically and unctuously affecting benevolence or high moral principles.

Sometimes Peck·sniff·ish.

Origin of Pecksniffian

1850–55; named after Seth Pecksniff, character in Martin Chuzzlewit, a novel (1843) by Dickens; see -ian
Related formsPeck·sniff·er·y, Peck·sniff·i·an·ism, Peck·sniff·ism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pecksniffian

Historical Examples of pecksniffian

  • 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.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for pecksniffian



affecting benevolence or high moral principles

Word Origin for Pecksniffian

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

Word Origin and History for pecksniffian



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper