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."
Examples of sententious in a Sentence
a smug and sententious writer
a sententious crank who has written countless letters to the editor about the decline in family values
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sententious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.