Definition of prig in English:



  • A self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if they are superior to others.

    ‘she was religious but not a prig’
    • ‘Even though the Establishment is a relic, there are many men, prigs by nature, in either party who fancy themselves a suitable part of it.’
    • ‘When he prides himself on his correct behavior, he becomes a prig.’
    • ‘And Bruce's childhood friend, Rachel, is a sanctimonious prig who likes to lecture Bruce about how he should live his life.’
    • ‘Maybe you should have thought about that before you started behaving like a pompous prig.’
    • ‘I want to know which school this illiterate prig went to, in order to avoid it.’
    • ‘‘I'm always glad to hear I'm annoying the uptight liberal prigs that are out there,’ says Ryan, his snark-rimed monotone bristling over the phone from LA.’
    • ‘His father's ‘prime horror’ was of prigs, and yet James does seem here to be awfully priggish, a fussy and self-obsessed old man.’
    • ‘Bill and Alice's identity crisis hits bottom too fast because they are never developed beyond an exotic porcelain doll and an oblivious bourgeois mate, what Victorians might have called a hysteric and a hypocritical prig.’
    • ‘‘Yeah, you're right Sir,’ the sergeant answered with masked contempt for this young prig that was his superior officer.’
    • ‘She will become unself-critical and demanding of others; what might, with some justification, be called a self-righteous prig.’
    • ‘The ‘gimmick’ of the show is that it is relentlessly fast paced, with multiple storylines, and characters who seem at times to be superhumanly capable, and at other times to be the most annoying self-centred arrogant prigs on the planet.’
    • ‘Real Puritans, she opines in ‘Puritans and Prigs,’ attempted to shape society by faith and reason, in contrast to prigs who are content to announce their opinions and ‘puritanically’ damn all who disagree.’
    • ‘But, while Shinn is a good social reporter, he seems slightly confused in his attitude to Stephen: one moment he is the play's moral touchstone, and the next a prig.’
    • ‘Bafflingly, from the few glimpses we're given of it, this haven appears anything but alluring, with Julia coming across as a self-satisfied nag and prig.’
    • ‘She laughed at me, Russell wrote, when I behaved like a don or a prig, and when I was dictatorial in conversation.’
    • ‘The book, thus far, has only served to further my insistence that the character of Harry Potter is, as they say, a prig.’
    • ‘Speak this truth in public and you are dismissed as a crank, a prig, a lunatic.’
    • ‘Alfred Kinsey was raised by a prig of a father, unkind to his son, his wife and anyone else who got in the way of his bitter view of the world.’
    • ‘His colleagues take him for a moralistic prig, but we sense powerful appetites, and honesty that is less an emanation of virtue than a stay against chaos.’
    • ‘He was excellent, as the pompous prig, but one could not really believe in the volte-face at the end, when humanity and love creeps up on him in the shape of an Indian princess.’
    prude, puritan, killjoy, mrs grundy, grundy, pedant, old maid, schoolmarm, pharisee, hypocrite, pietist, priggish person
    goody-goody, goody two-shoes, holy joe, holy willie, miss prim, stuffed shirt
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century: of unknown origin. The earliest sense was ‘tinker’ or ‘petty thief’, whence ‘disliked person’, especially ‘someone who is affectedly and self-consciously precise’ (late 17th century).