Word of the Day – Pecksniffian

English really is the most delightful language. It uses one word, ‘love’, to describe a whole array of emotional experience. Yet, simultaneously, it holds a word like ‘pecksniffian’ that describes such a very distinct type of person.

I would wager everyone knows at least one person in their life who is rather ‘pecksniffian’.


<a href=”http://dictionary.reference.com/audio.html/lunaWAV/P01/P0199900″ target=”_blank”><img src=”http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/g/d/speaker.gif” border=”0″ /></a> \pek-SNIF-ee-uhn\ , adjective;

1. Hypocritically and smugly affecting benevolence or high moral principles.

With such departing words, did this strong minded female paralyze the Pecksniffian energies; and so she swept out of the room, and out of the house, attended her daughters, who, as with one accord, elevated their three noses in the air, and joined in a contemptuous titter.
— Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, Volume 1

The men who do things in the world, the men worthy of admiration and imitation, are men constitutionally incapable of any such pecksniffian stupidity.
— H. L. Mencken, Damn! A Book of Calumny

Pecksniffian is named after Seth Pecksniff, a character in “Martin Chuzzlewit, a novel” (1843), by Charles Dickens.

(courtesy of Dictionary.com)

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