I'm trying to accurately describe a person who acts in one way and does another but knowingly and openly accepts that his actions also include him in the same group he criticizes.

This differs from a hypocrite who condemns those who perform an action but justifies his own actions by unrelated means and does not accept he is a part of that group.

Does such a word exist or is there a better way of describing such a person?

Merriam-Webster defines a hypocrite as a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

  • 3
    sanctimonious person, pretender, sham, dissembler, deceiver, charlatan - probably some of these words are right.
    – vortexwolf
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 20:55
  • I think you are not precise: take MW definition and see if it fits your words "a person who acts in one way, and does another, but knowingly and openly accepts that his actions also include him in the same group he criticizes". As you will see, such person is also a hypocrite. They might be openly admitting their hypocrisy, which is not common in hypocrite, but it still remains "acting in contradiction to stated beliefs". Therefore I recommend you should further clarify your question (especially act one way vs does another, which is not clear at all).
    – Unreason
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 16:33
  • can you please clarify what you need, is what you look for equivalent to: a self-aware and self-critical hypocrite, or do you see it as someone who is actually not a hypocrite? (-1 for question, as it is self-contradicting, until it is cleared up).
    – Unreason
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 10:40

7 Answers 7


The idiom that describes this behavior is: "Do as I say and not as I do." However, it's usually said by the person exhibiting the contradictory behavior and not those categorizing them.

  • 3
    I often say do as I say, not as I do when I'm trying to teach someone the correct way to do something, while freely admitting that I have some bad habits (or that I started doing something the wrong way, and am in too deep to start over and do it right.) My other favorite expression for this circumstance is Take a fool's advice, which I use to mean I made this mistake, so you don't have to.
    – MT_Head
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 17:15

I have heard someone use

I am a prophet, not a saint.

A prophet is one who comes to the world to give us a message. Here it refers to how he criticizes others for their wrongdoings.

A saint is one who does good things. Here it refers to how he does the same bad thing that he criticizes others for.


If you don't mind using a Biblical allusion which may not be immediately obvious to your audience, you could go with whitewashed tomb.

  • I've never heard this expression, and cannot come up with any sensible interpretation for it. Where have you seen it, and what does it mean?
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 22:28
  • @Martha, According to the Bible, Jesus used it to describe the religious leaders of his day, of whom he said Do as they say, but not as they do.
    – TRiG
    Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 22:53
  • 2
    @Martha, @TRiG: it's Matthew 23:27. Quite a good metaphor for hypocrisy (pretty on the outside, decayed within), but I admit I had to look it up.
    – user1579
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 18:08

If you don't mind it as an adjective, this person is either:





This sounds like a person who is making a rationalization. The noun form would be rationalizer (one who rationalizes), but I can't think of any times I've seen or heard that word used.


As in "Well, when the President does it that means that it is not illegal." via Wikipedia


Does it have to be one word? I suggest some sort of compound phrase:

open hypocrite

The implication being that a normal hypocrite is closed because they hide their hypocrisy either intentionally or unintentionally.

apathetic hypocrite

This person knows and communicates that they are among a group that acts in a way that is in conflict with the person's beliefs, but they are indifferent, unmotivated to change, or motivated to not change.

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