Skip to main content

Hypocrisy vs Sanctimony vs Pharisaism vs Cant

Hypocrisy, sanctimonypharisaismcant mean the pretense or affectation of being more virtuous or more religious than one actually is.

The same differences in implications and connotations are found in their corresponding adjectives, hypocritical, sanctimonious, pharisaical, canting. Hypocrisy and hypocritical, the most inclusive of these terms, imply an assumption of goodness, sincerity, or piety by one who is either not good, sincere, or pious or is actually corrupt, dishonest, or irreligious.

Sanctimony and sanctimonious are terms of opprobrium implying an affectation or merely outward pretense of holiness or of piety.

Pharisaism and pharisaical imply a stern and censorious attitude to the manners and morals of others or a conviction of one’s own moral superiority, or both; the terms frequently suggest sanctimony or, less often, out-and-out hypocrisy.

Cant (see also DIALECT ) and canting imply the use of religious or pietistic language or phraseology in such a way as to suggest sanctimony or hypocrisy rather than genuine holiness or deep religiousness; often, however, the terms suggest reference not only to such outward indications of sanctimony and hypocrisy but to the state of mind or the attitude of one who is so pharisaical, or so deeply convinced of his righteousness or holiness, that he is unaware that he is displaying his religion in a mechanical or perfunctory rather than in a sincere manner and in a spirit of arrogance rather than of humility.