Examples of piety in a Sentence
He was admired for his extreme piety.
her piety is quiet but profound
Recent Examples of piety from the Web
The safety nets Asia is weaving might even spare some people from long, listless waits outside a mosque, hoping to be fed by the piety of strangers.
Tacitus praised those Romans who, like his father-in-law, Agricola, acted under Domitian not just with energy but also with a sense of responsibility and piety.
Evangelicals who rail against sin and cloak themselves in piety offer nothing but a worldly, almost Gallic shrug.
The crown prince dates this extremism to 1979, the year Sunni radicals stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, and called for the overthrow of the House of Saud on the grounds of insufficient piety.
At times these pictures play like a pointed parody of liberal Hollywood pieties, flipping the script so that charismatic teachers and crusading attorneys become the bad guys.
How many athletic directors with budgets in need of balancing would gladly abandon the appearance of piety for the sake of profit?
The point was to mock liberal piety, cultural sensitivity, and political correctness, largely by alluding to them and thereby hoping to gain the unwitting subject’s assent.
Some cover for piety, some cover for identity, some cover for family reasons and some cover just to stir the pot.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'piety.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The Complicated Uses of pious
Pious has a bit of an image problem. From the beginning of its use in the 15th century this Latin descendant has been used to describe those who are simply very religious—that is, who are deeply devoted to their religion—but it has for centuries also described those who make a show of their religiousness and use it to assert their superiority. We see both in literature:
She sent for a minister, too, a serious, pious, good man, and applied herself with such earnestness, by his assistance, to the work of a sincere repentance, that I believe, and so did the minister too, that she was a true penitent….
— Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders, 1722
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve. It is the pious slave-breeder devoting the proceeds of every tenth slave to buy a Sunday's liberty for the rest.
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
Over the years other meanings have developed too. Pious can be used positively to describe those who are dutiful or virtuous, or things that are worthy. And it can be used negatively to describe hypocrisy. It is also used neutrally to distinguish what is religious from what is nonreligious in content, as in this humorous excerpt from Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights:
Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man—very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy. "The Lord help us!" he soliloquized in an undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse, looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner, and his pious ejaculation had no reference to my unexpected advent.
Because the word is about religion and religiousness, many associate pious with the Bible. It is, however, wholly absent from many translations of the Bible, probably because of its ambiguous meaning. Pious is, though, included in The New Revised Standard Version and the paraphrasing Living Bible, among a number of others:
The blessing of the Lord is the reward of the pious, and quickly God causes his blessing to flourish.
— Sirach 11:22, New Revised Standard Version
You try to look like saintly men, but underneath those pious robes of yours are hearts besmirched with every sort of hypocrisy and sin.
— Matthew 23:28, The Living Bible
Piety, which most often refers to simple religious devotion, doesn't have the same problem, and is more widely used in biblical translations.
Synonym Discussion of piety
- marital fidelity
- pledging allegiance
- fealty to the truth
- valued the loyalty of his friends
- a painter's devotion to her art
- filial piety
PIETY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of piety for English Language Learners
: devotion to God : the quality or state of being pious
PIETY Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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