Someone or something sanctimonious pretends to be holy or perfect but really isn't (and that's very annoying.)
sankt uh MONE ee us
Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a sanctimonious attitude.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "Their attitude was sanctimonious.”)
How to use it:
Sanctimonious people and things do often pretend to be holy in a religious way, but you don't have to use the word that narrowly. You can be sanctimonious about your grades, your parenting skills, your performance on the job, your morals and habits, and so on.
So, talk about a sanctimonious person or attitude, a sanctimonious gesture or comment, a sanctimonious speech or piece of writing, and so on.
Keep in mind that this is a harsh, critical word. No one wants to be accused of sanctimony.
When I help high school seniors prepare their college application essays, part of the challenge is getting them to recognize and delete any sanctimonious narration--things like "I was present, prepared, and focused at every club meeting, while my peers were straggling in late and playing on their phones."
Sometimes I like reading mommy blogs... and then again, sometimes they just irritate me with their sanctimony.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "sanctimonious" means when you can explain it without saying "hypocritical" or "fake-holy."
Think of a real-life or fictional hypocrite, and fill in the blanks: "I can't believe (Person's) sanctimonious demand that _____, all while he/she _____."
Example: "I can't believe this teacher's sanctimonious demand that the kids keep all discussions on topic, all while she goes off on whatever tangents she wants."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
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A Point Well Made:
François Fénelon: “We can often do more for other men by trying to correct our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.”
1. The opposite of SANCTIMONIOUS is
2. The film is sanctimonious about its theme on the virtue of simplicity, _____.
A. slowly revealing it more clearly from scene to scene
B. insisting on it over and over throughout the needlessly complex plot
C. never outright stating it but implying it with increasingly poignant scenes
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Today's word describes hypocritical people and things: those that act saintly but truly aren't. You might notice the connection to "sacred," "sanctuary," "sacrosanct," and so on, and you might examine today's word closely to find a root that means "hypocritical," "fake," "pretend," or something--but actually, you won't find one. In fact, "sanctimonious" used to simply mean "sacred, holy," but it doesn't anymore.
Other words that have gone through a similar transformation include sagacious and decimate. That is, they used to mean one thing but now mean quite another.
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