Definition of sententious in English:



  • Given to moralizing in a pompous or affected manner.

    ‘he tried to encourage his men with sententious rhetoric’
    • ‘Some are witty, some impressively moving, some sententious, but the lack of dramatic context normally prevents evaluation of serious or ironic intent.’
    • ‘A tremor goes through me when I hear a sententious TV commentator raise the topic, because they always finish up by talking about the ‘anomaly’ that even the most feckless natural parent is allowed to breed.’
    • ‘The character of Seneca thus finds just the right mixture of true compassion and the ranting of an alcoholic and sententious philosopher, whose servile disciples note down everything he says with ridiculous fury.’
    • ‘At one end of the spectrum were the Latin commonplace books compiled by schoolboys, organized into ‘topics’ or ‘places’ under which sententious sayings were recorded.’
    • ‘His summary of the year 1741 is characteristic of the rather sententious tenor of his musings.’
    • ‘The inner pages were dominated by an editorial that, more often than not, took a partisan stand on a burning political question and was typically lengthy, verbose, and sententious, albeit sometimes jocular.’
    • ‘Ask a dancer - or any artist, for that matter - to talk about her/his art, and you invariably get a grandiose mission statement, peppered with sententious remarks about ‘Tradition, Innovation, Vision and Spirit’.’
    • ‘I suppose if a contemporary poet had written this, I might think it a bit sententious.’
    • ‘The book's title comes from a sententious line of Henry James's, and the opening preamble announces that multiplicity is going to be an important theme.’
    • ‘Alex may be sententious and slack, but he's not unwise.’
    • ‘They are never glib, never sententious, but cliché is never far away either.’
    • ‘Stuart and his wife arrive at the end to calm everything down, and the play becomes sententious and repetitive.’
    • ‘It's only when we disagree with his emphasis that we accuse him of being sententious.’
    • ‘Too often work described as ‘edgy’ is really sententious and predictable.’
    • ‘Although religious in a superficial and sententious way, she regards God as a servant, not a master, and she acknowledges no limits, either God's or the law's, to the exercise of her will.’
    • ‘It is also portentous, pretentious and sententious.’
    • ‘In particular, why quote the mostly sentimental and sententious lyrics with such solemn respect?’
    • ‘He did not, as some of his critics charged, mean this as a call for sententious moralising on the part of historians.’
    • ‘The mortals were less convincing, hampered as they are with dialogue which is both pretentious and sententious, a lot of which I felt could have been usefully cut and so speeded up the action.’
    • ‘In the next three seconds, somewhere in the world, an ingenuous pop star or maybe a dippy actress or a sententious comedian will harangue you about Third World debt.’
    moralistic, moralizing, sanctimonious, self-righteous, pietistic, pious, priggish, pecksniffian, judgemental, canting
    pompous, pontifical, self-important
    unco guid
    preachy, preachifying
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin sententiosus, from sententia opinion (see sentence). The original sense was ‘full of meaning or wisdom’, later becoming depreciatory.