Peck·​sniff·​ian pek-ˈsni-fē-ən How to pronounce Pecksniffian (audio)
: unctuously hypocritical : pharisaical

Did you know?

Seth Pecksniff, a character with a holier-than-thou attitude in Charles Dickens's 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit, was no angel, though he certainly tried to pass himself off as one. Pecksniff liked to preach morality and brag about his own virtue, but in reality he was a deceptive rascal who would use any means to advance his own selfish interests. It didn't take long for Pecksniff's reputation for canting sanctimoniousness to leave its mark on English; "Pecksniffian" has been used as a synonym of "hypocritical" since 1849.

Examples of Pecksniffian in a Sentence

a Pecksniffian pandering to religious conservatives, especially in the weeks before the election

Word History


Seth Pecksniff, character in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44) by Charles Dickens

First Known Use

1844, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Pecksniffian was in 1844


Dictionary Entries Near Pecksniffian

Cite this Entry

“Pecksniffian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

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