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sanctimonious - vocabulary

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips

adjective

Making an ostentatious display or hypocritical pretense of holiness, piety, or righteousness.

Recently, I boarded a flight from Boston to New York. As I sat down, the attendant announced that the flight was scheduled to take less than two hours (it actually took four hours) and consequently ''in accord with Federal Aviation Association regulations this is a nonsmoking flight.'' A large number of the passengers cheered and applauded.

There was something so sanctimonious about this outburst that I spent the remainder of the flight trying to understand why. I concluded that I had witnessed a self-righteous exhibition of moral superiority. This is not something most people, in these days of subjective moral values, have much opportunity to do. However, smoking has now become a sin, so opposing it has taken on a sanctioned and religious quality.

—David Scott Davis “Selfish, Sanctimonious Anti-Smokers”
New York Times, January 27, 1989

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