sententious

play
adjective sen·ten·tious \sen-ˈten(t)-shəs\

Definition of sententious

  1. 1a :  given to or abounding in aphoristic expressionb :  given to or abounding in excessive moralizing

  2. 2 :  terse, aphoristic, or moralistic in expression :  pithy, epigrammatic

sententiously

adverb

sententiousness

noun

sententious was our Word of the Day on 04/25/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of sententious in a sentence

  1. a smug and sententious writer

  2. a sententious crank who has written countless letters to the editor about the decline in family values

Did You Know?

Nowadays, "sententious" is usually uncomplimentary, implying banality, oversimplification, and excessive moralizing. But that hasn't always been the case, nor is it universally so even now. The original Middle English sense of "sententious" was "full of meaning," a meaning adopted from Latin sententiosus (from sententia, meaning "sentence" or "maxim"). In Modern English, too, "sententious" has sometimes referred to what is full of significance and expressed tersely. Or sometimes "sententious" simply suggests an affinity for aphorisms, as when it refers to the likes of Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard (of almanac fame), the homespun philosopher given to such statements as "early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Origin and Etymology of sententious

Middle English, full of meaning, from Latin sententiosus, from sententia sentence, maxim


First Known Use: 1509


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