Definition of pious in US English:



  • 1Devoutly religious.

    • ‘In fact, some of these would not be suitable for a more pious audience.’
    • ‘When he enters, everybody falls to the ground in a very pious manner.’
    • ‘Somehow or other, by destiny, this sinner did perform a pious deed, and by that deed he became purified.’
    • ‘I am sure he and his comrades saw themselves as pious Muslims.’
    • ‘As pious Jews they had held that Yahweh alone was God and that no human being could be divine.’
    • ‘This is not a movie aimed at the religiously pious.’
    • ‘Children dress up as witches on Halloween, much to the dismay of certain pious Christians.’
    • ‘Both her father and mother were pious Christians who regularly conducted home devotions and faithfully attended church.’
    • ‘She was a very pious woman who despised anything that was not Christian.’
    • ‘By prayer and meditation the pious Buddhist enters into living communion with the heavenly Lord.’
    • ‘Both feel deeply about nature and religion, and are devotedly pious to church and religion.’
    • ‘However, Bosch was an orthodox Christian, a member of the Brotherhood of our Lady, a pious religious confraternity.’
    • ‘Now the third important point related to government regulation is the aim of religion education is to develop pious and devout students.’
    • ‘But her mother, my maternal grandmother, was very pious and strict about religion.’
    • ‘Of all the religions, the best religion is to repeat God's Name and to do pious deeds.’
    • ‘She is deeply pious but also brave and fiercely protective of her son.’
    • ‘Even among the most pious, few could afford to neglect appearances.’
    • ‘I was rather pious about my religion and thought I might be a priest.’
    • ‘His supporters view his rise as just reward for a deeply pious man.’
    religious, devout, devoted, dedicated, reverent, god-fearing, churchgoing, spiritual, prayerful, holy, godly, saintly, faithful, dutiful, righteous
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    1. 1.1 Making a hypocritical display of virtue.
      ‘there'll be no pious words said over her’
      • ‘He's a pious hypocrite and a greedy, petty, stupid, mean-minded crook.’
      • ‘If one is looking for pious platitudes, this is not the place to come.’
      • ‘Laid out on the table in front of me were the pious platitudes of Government Ministers responding to the loss of 350 permanent jobs in Donegal.’
      • ‘Yes, the new EU constitution has plenty of pious words about ensuring that there should be no unfair state aids and other subsidies.’
      • ‘He said all the pious words about fresh air and cuddly animals but nothing about the obligations which might be imposed on industry.’
      • ‘Yet it has evolved as the major challenge of our day, demanding responses beyond pious platitudes.’
      • ‘I am referring to the word that means ‘insincere talk, especially concerning morals; pious platitudes’.’
      • ‘I mean, that sounds rather pious, but that is the way it is.’
      • ‘Second, in the pious and hypocritical words of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ‘we live in a country of laws where there can be severe consequences for those who break them.’’
      • ‘What stopped this from being a pious platitude was his accompanying insistence that the objective could be achieved by reform.’
      • ‘Once again, there is no sign of any reaction from the United Nations beyond pious platitudes.’
      • ‘Many pious words have been spoken in the past few days about bringing the country back into the European family, supporting democracy, fresh starts, and so on.’
      • ‘There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and ‘the rule of law.’’
      • ‘We have more pious language, more platitudes, no clear definition, no consistency, and no clarity for those people who have to work under the Act.’
      • ‘So it would be a mistake for Democrats to start sounding more pious.’
      • ‘The sheer supercilious, pious hypocracy fair takes the breath away.’
      • ‘They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering.’
      • ‘His answer to all these questions is the pious platitude, ‘one standard of citizenship’.’
      • ‘But this is one issue on which I think incoherence and vacillation, combined with a liberal dose of pious platitudes, are exactly what most people want.’
      • ‘We will doubtless hear some pious hypocrisies from Jack Straw.’
      sanctimonious, hypocritical, insincere, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, pietistic, churchy
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    2. 1.2attributive (of a hope) sincere but unlikely to be fulfilled.
      • ‘That has turned out to be little more than a pious hope.’
      • ‘The message was delivered through an intermediary, leaving the CIA with the pious hope that once its wishes had been made known, Viaux would respect them.’
      • ‘"Cheats never prosper " is a pious hope rather than a reality.’
      • ‘Yet reality must be confronted, if reconciliation is to be more than a pious hope.’
      • ‘Despite pious hopes, it is unlikely that any national government will allow the UN to tax its citizens or that taxes, like books, will be destroyed by the Web.’
      • ‘Well, it would be nice to think that the pious hopes expressed in the Speech from the Throne would result in real action.’
      • ‘However, their recommendation so far remained a pious wish without suitable legislative support.’
      • ‘For socialists, it is not an empty phrase or a pious wish.’
      • ‘This announcement should be seen as a pious hope rather than as a political reality.’
      • ‘The publication of this special edition of Folklore suggests that this possibility is now more than a pipe-dream or a pious hope.’
      • ‘They harbour the pious hope that change is easier from within than from without.’
      • ‘Does it have anything other than a vain and pious hope that that could actually be achieved, or is the Government treating it in a cavalier fashion?’
      • ‘In a world come of age, we have no luxury of a pious hope that God is either our copilot or an air traffic controller who would save us from crashing into each other.’
      • ‘Their slogan is ‘there has to be a better way’, but they cannot specify anything more than pious hopes.’
      • ‘This was to prove a pious hope, the costs doubling over the period.’
      • ‘Their response, however, consists of a pathetic mixture of pious wishes and unrealistic hopes.’
      • ‘The option to renew is nothing other than what Cote calls ‘a pious hope that an agreement may later be reached’.’
      • ‘The document it produced was toothless, consisting of many pious hopes and a few unenforceable targets.’
      • ‘All of our economic objectives, and all the pious hopes that can ring around the walls of this House about what we might aim to achieve, will fail if we as a nation lack a sense of our national purpose.’
      sincere, forlorn, vain, desperate, despairing, doomed, hopeless, lost
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    3. 1.3archaic Dutiful or loyal, especially toward one's parents.
      • ‘Proper behavior means to be loyal, filially pious respectful and trustworthy.’
      • ‘Since sons and daughters were supposed to learn how to be loyal to the king by being pious to their parents, one could not easily excise the first bond.’


Late Middle English: from Latin pius ‘dutiful, pious’ + -ous.