There is a word, which I'm sure exists, but which has eluded me for the best part of a year; it's driven me so mad as to finally buckle and write this question in the hopes of drawing it out to the surface at last.

I'd tentatively define it as follows,

Of a person's action or comment that is so hypocritical as to be unbelievable* that they'd try to take such a position. *(The word itself could be used here to describe the unbelievably hypocritical behaviour)

The idiom, "That's rich (...coming from you)", sums up the sentiment, but if normal hypocritical behavior is rich, then the word I'm looking for is the mud-cake rich version of it.

Examples of situations where the word could be used to describe the (insert word) hypocritical nature,

  1. A dubious politician takes a hard stance against a respected senior public servant for allegedly making misleading comments.
  2. A social media influencer, who gains all their wealth from posting selfies to Instagram, has a go at society for its modern revelry in vanity.
  3. A wealthy individual, who pays substantial sums to accountants to maximise what benefits they receive from government initiatives, criticises people with disabilities who receive government welfare.
  4. One person, with extremely partisan political views, has a go at another person for their holding of their own extremely partisan political views.

An example sentence referencing an above scenario would be,

Their behaviour was utterly (insert word).

I've searched through various thesauruses without luck (merriam-webster, wordhippo, Macquarie, ect.). Two words that keep blocking my mind's eye are incredulous and egregious; I believe the word in question likely sounds similar to these, therefore. However, these don't fit as it has to relate specifically to the demonstration of excessive hypocrisy which is unpalatably rich.

  • 1
    I'll suggest Do Brits often use 'blag' where Americans use 'chutzpa' (for an extreme degree of impudence, gall)? as a duplicate. 'Effrontery' and 'brazenness' are offered. These don't stipulate hypocrisy, but I suspect most of the answers here won't, either. Apr 8, 2021 at 11:59
  • sanctimonious nearly always implies hypocritical sanctimony. Apr 8, 2021 at 12:44
  • You indicate that the word should be more complex (incredulous, egregious). Is phony in the right ballpark, in the sense of a fake or insincere sentiment? Apr 8, 2021 at 13:15
  • 1
    If you are looking for a noun, one option is effrontery, which Merriam-Webster describes as "shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy." Other potentially relevant terms that MW suggests are temerity and shameless audacity, along with nerve, cheek, gall, and chutzpah.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 8, 2021 at 18:47
  • @SvenYargs effrontery does indeed seem the perfect fit – except that the sample sentence requires an adjective, and effronterous doesn't (yet) exist. [Of course, a slight cheat would be to say "Their behaviour was utter effrontery."] PS – I love the etymology of the word: from MW, "To the Romans, the shameless were "without forehead"! Apr 9, 2021 at 1:17

6 Answers 6


How about

pharisaical: marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness (Merriam-Webster, online)


unctuously hypocritical (Merriam-Webster, online)?

  • 1
    I don't think either of these is common in American English.
    – Barmar
    Apr 13, 2021 at 17:09
  • And, what does this have to do with anything? The questioner does not ask for common American English words. May 31, 2021 at 19:00

I'm wondering whether you're looking for shameless.

  • 4
    You should include a dictionary definition of the choosen word and also an explanation of why you think it's the best fit for the question. Apr 8, 2021 at 15:13

"Holier than thou attitude" is great to use for the expression "utter shameless hypocrisy". According to Wiktionary:

(derogatory) Hypocritically or self-righteously pious; sanctimonious

  • I think the question is aimed at getting a single word rather than a phrase. May 2, 2022 at 7:38
  • And I also don't think 'holier than thou' is necessarily hypocritical.
    – Joachim
    May 2, 2022 at 10:21

shameless and undisguised; barefaced. BALD-FACED

  • 2
    These would be improved with dictionary definitions. Jun 17, 2022 at 15:00

After some more thought.

The Aesop's fable "wolf and the lamb", might be more suited for this situation.

The wolf is an unashamed hypocrite, making excuses to kill.

For someone who does not read a rational reason to kill its prey.


How about shameless?

From etymology of "shame":

"from *kem- "to cover" (covering oneself being a common expression of shame)."

The idea of naked hypocrisy -- unconcealed, willfully, almost a feature rather than a bug.

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.