Perhaps an endangered species in the 21st century, such a person will tend to use euphemisms for bodily functions and sex, instead of what they consider "indelicate words".

I'm looking for a noun or an adjective, a single word or phrase, but not "prude" or "prudish". Rather, I'm looking for a slang or proper word, or phrase, that means "excessively prude".

  • Imprudently prude? – Blessed Geek Oct 9 '14 at 21:26
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    I'm surprised nobody has asked, but why do you think prude doesn't fit? Are you looking at a personality disorder by chance? – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '14 at 8:41

Such a person might be called a Mrs Grundy:-

one marked by prudish conventionality in personal conduct [Merriam-Webster]

There are some other synonyms suggested at the link, including nice nelly and wowser, which might also fit the bill.

  • "Mrs Grundy" and "nice Nelly" look like what I'm looking for. I've found "Nice-Nellysm" or "Nicenellysm" too. – Centaurus Oct 11 '14 at 17:34
  • Is this American English? I've never heard either and wouldn't know what they mean. – chasly - supports Monica Nov 5 '18 at 21:27
  • @chaslyfromUK, I wouldn't think so. America had only just been invented when this term appeared. – Brian Hooper Nov 6 '18 at 8:30
  • @Brian Hooper - According to Google ngram, Mrs Grundy 1st appeared in the American Corpus in 1758 whereas it is not in the British Corpus until 1775. This is interesting because according to Encyclopedia Britannica her origin was in the play Speed the Plough (produced 1798). In any case I don't think she is commonly known these days. – chasly - supports Monica Nov 6 '18 at 23:46

If you expand the definition of prudishness slightly, probably the handiest term I can think of for this is

prig n A person who demonstrates an exaggerated conformity or propriety, especially in an irritatingly arrogant or smug manner.

from The Free Dictionary online.

You could also call that kind of person prissy, and by extension, a priss (slang).


The problem is that you are looking for something that means "excessively prudish" but meaning of prudish already implies "excessive"

American usage:

a person who is excessively proper or modest in speech, conduct, dress, etc. Random House Dictionary

English usage:

a person who affects or shows an excessively modest, prim, or proper attitude, esp regarding sex Collins English Dictionary

Word Origin and History

1704, "woman who affects or upholds modesty in a degree considered excessive," from French prude "excessively prim or demure woman," first recorded in Molière. Perhaps a false back-formation or an ellipsis of preudefemme "a discreet, modest woman," from Old French prodefame "noblewoman, gentlewoman; wife, consort," fem. equivalent of prudhomme "a brave man" (see proud ); or perhaps a direct noun use of the French adjective prude "prudish," from Old French prude, prode, preude "good, virtuous, modest," a feminine form of the adjective preux. Also occasionally as an adjective in English 18c. Online Etymology Dictionary

So prude means "excessively modest/prim/proper" and you are seeking a word that means "excessively excessively modest/prim/proper" which is just silly.

Your best best is probably to go back to the etymological connection between prude and proud and look for a word that means proud in an excessive way, such as: overbearing, self-important, disdainful, imperious, presumptuous, arrogant, haughty.

Arrogant applies to insolent or overbearing behavior, arising from an exaggerated belief in one's importance: "arrogant rudeness."Haughty implies lofty reserve and confident, often disdainful assumption of superiority over others: "the haughty manner of the butler in the play." Random House Dictionary

  • 2
    You have given a creditable analysis, up to the last two paragraphs. It seems that the OP is seeking an intensified word for "prude" rather than for "proud", so "arrogant" and "insolent" are not apt. – Theresa Oct 9 '14 at 21:03
  • @Theresa all my analysis is credible. There is no intensified word for prude since prude is the intensified word. The selected best answer, Mrs. Grundy is merely an example of a prude not an intensified version. Because one cannot intensify prude. But what can happen is that a person can be prude and also proud of their prudishness in a negative way. That pride in prudishness could be intensified, so one could be an arrogant prude or just arrogant (but derived from pride in their prudishness). I didn't give insolent that's the dictionary and I meant the or overbearing. – Brillig Oct 23 '14 at 15:42

Prim or strait-laced: (from TFD)

  • Excessively or affectedly prim and proper.
  • fussy and prissy, esp in a prudish way

also puritan may suggest the idea:

  • a person who adheres to strict moral or religious principles, esp one opposed to luxury and sensual enjoyment

and bluenose:

  • a person who advocates a rigorous moral code, (blue·nosed adjective)
  • 1
    Prim would be a poor choice to try and take the meaning of "excessively prudish" since prudish means "excessively prim". Strait-laced means "excessively prim" so is a synonym of prude. Puritan culture was very modest but didn't like people to make a show of excessive modesty, so even within puritan culture they probably had their own version of prudes. – Brillig Oct 9 '14 at 20:51

As Josh61's answer notes, one apt slang term is bluenose. Wentworth & Flexner, Dictionary of American Slang (1960) has this entry:

blue nose n. A person with strongly puritanical moral convictions; one who believes that having a good time is immoral; an ultraconservative. 1956: "It was 1917 and America was at war and the moral bluenoses were sniffing around the army camps and keeping our boys pure, so they could make the world safe for democracy." S. Longstreet, The Real Jazz Old and New, 61. Orig. in Colonial times = an aristocrat.

Chapman & Kipfer, Dictionary of American Slang, Third Edition (1995) offers two definitions of the term:

bluenose n 1920s A prude; prig; self-appointed moral arbiter ...

Bluenose n by 1830s A native of Nova Scotia, esp. a Maritimes fisheman [fr the color of a very cold nose]

J. E. Lighter, Random House Dictionary of American Slang (1994) has a very lengthy entry for bluenose, which it defines as meaning "a native of Nova Scotia [or later of any Maritimes province in Canada]," "a New Englander," or "an excessively puritanical person; prude." This dictionary includes a citation from 1992 in the New York Observer, indicating that the usage remains current:

In the screening room are...the head censor...and Tyler, an apprentice blue-nose.

As these definitions suggest (and as Josh61 again notes), the term puritan may be apt, as well, as in "He's such a puritan [or "so puritanical"] about public displays of affection."

  • I've never heard of blue nose or bluenose before. To me it indicates someone with a bad cold or a frozen nose. Moreover, the colour blue, nowadays, is associated with vulgarity and pornography. Not good choice in my opinion. Is it specifically AmEng? – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '14 at 7:46
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    It appears to be mainly a U.S. term—and its connotations are essentially the opposite of "blue" in the sense of pornography. Merriam-Webster includes it in the Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) without a "slang" label and defines it as "a person who advocates a rigorous moral code." Likewise, a bluestocking is "a woman having intellectual or literary interests" and a blue blood is "a member of a noble or socially prominent family." I think that in the U.S. "blue" as part of a compound term has too many different senses to be immediately and primarily associated with pornography. – Sven Yargs Oct 10 '14 at 8:46
  • bluestocking is obsolete, it refers to specific event, time in history, a group of female intellectuals. Blue blood I concede is still popular and regal, but if the air turns blue it's because we are swearing, and if someone watches a blue DVD it's about porn. A blue joke is risquè etc. I wouldn't recommend that the OP uses bluenose. It's good to know, it's informative perhaps, but it's of little practical use. – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '14 at 8:55
  • Other "blue" compounds used in the U.S.: blue chip ("one that is outstanding: as (a) an outstandingly worthwhile or valuable property or asset (b) an athlete rated as excellent or as an excellent prospect"); blue law ("(1) one of numerous extremely rigorous laws designed to regulate morals and conduct in colonial New England (2) a statute regulating work, commerce, and amusements on Sundays"); blue-ribbon ("of outstanding quality"); blue streak ("(1) something that moves very fast (2) a constant stream of words"); all definitions are from MW. – Sven Yargs Oct 10 '14 at 8:57
  • And blue is usually associated with cold weather, freezing temperatures, hence the meaning of bluenose or blue-nose for a non-American speaker i.e. British, would not be obvious IMO. First three definitions of blue in Cambridge Dictionary English 1) colour 2) sexual 3) sad – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '14 at 9:01

"Frigid" might be what you're looking for. From The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words:

frig·id|ˈfrijid| adj. very cold in temperature: frigid water.

(esp. of a woman) unable or unwilling to be sexually aroused and responsive.

showing no friendliness or enthusiasm; stiff or formal in behavior or style: Henrietta looked back with a frigid calm.

  • Hi, again, wwtfn. Thank you for making the additional effort. I have upvoted your answer on that basis. A Google search reveals that "Google dictionary" (which is actually a sort of pastiche of various published dictionaries) borrowed the definitions in your answer from The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words, so I added a citation that dictionary and a link to the relevant entry in it. The synonym lists came from another book, Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus, and don't seem useful to your answer, so I deleted them. You can, of course, restore them if you don't like my editing changes. – Sven Yargs Nov 5 '18 at 20:23
  • ... In case you want to cite both the Dictionary of Difficult Words and the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus, you can find the relevant link to the latter here. – Sven Yargs Nov 5 '18 at 20:27

holier-than-thou adjective

characterized by an attitude of moral superiority.
"They had quite a critical, holier-than-thou approach."

synonyms: sanctimonious


I would personally find "ultra-conservative" an emphatic word to use for such a person.

Conservative: holding traditional values

  • 2
    That phrase is used to describe a cluster of political viewpoints, so it is really too broad to describe a person's preferred manner of speaking. – Theresa Oct 9 '14 at 20:28

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