I'm looking for a precise word to describe someone who is hypocritical on moral issues, for example:

  • a cult guru who claims to be holy while doing something evil.
  • or a company which partakes in some kind of sordid business practice while pretending to be holier-than-thou.
  • 9
    What's wrong with hypocrite?
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 1:49
  • 3
    I agree with @terdon. In fact, I'd argue that most hypocrisy is moral hypocrisy, and it seems many dictionaries would support that assertion.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 9:41
  • 1
    That is precisely the meaning of hypocrisy. Searching for moral hypocrisy is like searching for wet water. Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


I believe the word is sanctimonious defined in the dictionary as

making a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.: They resented his sanctimonious comments on immorality in America.


The thesaurus provides us with

  • pharisee
  • Tartuffe
  • Holy Willie
  • whited sepulchre
  • phoney or phony
  • beguiler
  • cheater
  • deceiver
  • slicker
  • cheat
  • fraud
  • deceiver
  • pretender
  • charlatan
  • impostor

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.