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
    Sep 7 '13 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.
    Sep 7 '13 at 9:41
  • 1
    That is precisely the meaning of hypocrisy. Searching for moral hypocrisy is like searching for wet water. Sep 7 '13 at 16:57

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

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