[sangk-tuh-moh-nee-uh s]
  1. making a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.: They resented his sanctimonious comments on immorality in America.
  2. Obsolete. holy; sacred.

Origin of sanctimonious

First recorded in 1595–1605; sanctimony + -ous
Related formssanc·ti·mo·ni·ous·ly, adverbsanc·ti·mo·ni·ous·ness, nounnon·sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous, adjectivenon·sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous·ly, adverbnon·sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous·ness, nounun·sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous, adjectiveun·sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous·ly, adverbun·sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for unsanctimonious


  1. affecting piety or making a display of holiness
Derived Formssanctimoniously, adverbsanctimoniousness, nounsanctimony, noun

Word Origin for sanctimonious

C17: from Latin sanctimonia sanctity, from sanctus holy
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 unsanctimonious



c.1600 (in "Measure for Measure," with the disparaging sense "making a show of sanctity, affecting an appearance of holiness"), from sanctimony + -ous. The un-ironic, literal sense was used occasionally in English from c.1600 to c.1800. Related: Sanctimoniously; sanctimoniousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper