Peck·​sniff·​ian | \ pek-ˈsni-fē-ən How to pronounce Pecksniffian (audio) \

Definition of Pecksniffian

: unctuously hypocritical : pharisaical

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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

First Known Use of Pecksniffian

1844, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Pecksniffian

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

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The first known use of Pecksniffian was in 1844

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Cite this Entry

“Pecksniffian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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