hy·​poc·​ri·​sy | \ hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī- How to pronounce hypocrisy (audio) \
plural hypocrisies

Definition of hypocrisy

1 : a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not : behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel His hypocrisy was finally revealed with the publication of his private letters. especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion our conventional morality often serves as a cover for hypocrisy and selfishness — Lucius Garvin
2 : an act or instance of hypocrisy a keen awareness of one's parents' hypocrisies

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Examples of hypocrisy in a Sentence

When his private letters were made public, they revealed his hypocrisy. the hypocrisy of people who say one thing but do another Teenagers often have a keen awareness of their parents' hypocrisies.
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Recent Examples on the Web Democrats say this is hairsplitting hypocrisy that damages the legitimacy of the court. BostonGlobe.com, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discharged from hospital - The Boston Globe," 25 Nov. 2019 Out of protest that Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) remains unemployed over allegations of insurance fraud, viewers have turned to Twitter to express their outrage over the hypocrisy of it all. Lynette Rice, EW.com, "Fans called out Bailey's hypocrisy on Grey's Anatomy — and Ellen Pompeo is here for it," 15 Oct. 2019 In its war against Georgia in 2008, annexation of Crimea in 2014 and meddling in the American election of 2016, the Kremlin implicitly claimed to have mirrored America’s actions and exposed its hypocrisy. The Economist, "The ironies of revolution A love affair with liberal democracy that soured," 9 Jan. 2020 The British often tried to undermine the patriots by mocking their hypocrisy in fighting for liberty while keeping Africans in bondage, and colonial officials repeatedly encouraged enslaved people to seek freedom by fleeing to British lines. New York Times, "Letter to the Editor: Historians Critique The 1619 Project, and We Respond," 21 Dec. 2019 But in 2020 this new breed of activist CEOs will face three problems that politicians know well: the charge of hypocrisy, the risk of a recession and destabilising ideological shifts. The Economist, "The World in 2020 Bosses will pay a price for mixing politics and corporate values," 26 Dec. 2019 Risks aplenty Broadly speaking, a company taking stands on social issues will almost inevitably be accused of hypocrisy or grandstanding. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "The 2010s Were the Decade That Forced CEOs to Get Political," 19 Dec. 2019 The hypocrisy of these swampy actions by Trump supporters is almost as troubling as Trump’s own disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the separation of powers. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Can’t we call them gangs?," 6 Nov. 2019 Her vibrant story exposes not only Livingstone’s hypocrisy, but also the growing doubts of Halima and Jacob. Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, "Out of Africa: David Livingstone’s servants preserve his legacy," 3 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hypocrisy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hypocrisy

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hypocrisy

Middle English ypocrisye, borrowed from Anglo-French ypocrisie, borrowed from Late Latin hypocrisis, ypocrisis, borrowed from Greek hypókrisis "playing a part on the stage, pretending to be something one is not," from hypokri-, variant stem of hypokrī́nomai, hypokrī́nesthai "to reply, make an answer, speak in dialogue, play a part on the stage, feign" (from hypo- hypo- + krī́nomai, middle voice of krī́nō, krī́nein "to separate, choose, decide, judge") + -sis, suffix forming nouns of action or process — more at certain entry 1

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Time Traveler for hypocrisy

Time Traveler

The first known use of hypocrisy was in the 13th century

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Statistics for hypocrisy

Last Updated

5 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hypocrisy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocrisy. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for hypocrisy


How to pronounce hypocrisy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hypocrisy

disapproving : the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel


hy·​poc·​ri·​sy | \ hi-ˈpä-krə-sē How to pronounce hypocrisy (audio) \
plural hypocrisies

Kids Definition of hypocrisy

: the quality of acting in a way that goes against claimed beliefs or feelings

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