ho·​li·​er-than-thou ˌhō-lē-ər-t͟hən-ˈt͟hau̇ How to pronounce holier-than-thou (audio)
: marked by an air of superior piety or morality

Examples of holier-than-thou in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Aidan is written as a sympathetic character — unlike Big, who comes off much more pompous — but still manipulates Carrie from his holier-than-thou perch. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2023 But whether Ben is talking to people he’s known for ages or whom he’s just met, the guy has a knack for being aggressive, holier-than-thou, and sarcastic to a fault. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 3 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'holier-than-thou.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1859, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of holier-than-thou was in 1859

Dictionary Entries Near holier-than-thou

Cite this Entry

“Holier-than-thou.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holier-than-thou. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

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