Definition of pious in US English:



  • 1Devoutly religious.

    • ‘Children dress up as witches on Halloween, much to the dismay of certain pious Christians.’
    • ‘I was rather pious about my religion and thought I might be a priest.’
    • ‘Even among the most pious, few could afford to neglect appearances.’
    • ‘She was a very pious woman who despised anything that was not Christian.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When he enters, everybody falls to the ground in a very pious manner.’
    • ‘As pious Jews they had held that Yahweh alone was God and that no human being could be divine.’
    • ‘I am sure he and his comrades saw themselves as pious Muslims.’
    • ‘Somehow or other, by destiny, this sinner did perform a pious deed, and by that deed he became purified.’
    • ‘In fact, some of these would not be suitable for a more pious audience.’
    • ‘This is not a movie aimed at the religiously pious.’
    • ‘Now the third important point related to government regulation is the aim of religion education is to develop pious and devout students.’
    • ‘However, Bosch was an orthodox Christian, a member of the Brotherhood of our Lady, a pious religious confraternity.’
    • ‘She is deeply pious but also brave and fiercely protective of her son.’
    • ‘By prayer and meditation the pious Buddhist enters into living communion with the heavenly Lord.’
    • ‘His supporters view his rise as just reward for a deeply pious man.’
    • ‘Both feel deeply about nature and religion, and are devotedly pious to church and religion.’
    • ‘Both her father and mother were pious Christians who regularly conducted home devotions and faithfully attended church.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yes, the new EU constitution has plenty of pious words about ensuring that there should be no unfair state aids and other subsidies.’
      • ‘So it would be a mistake for Democrats to start sounding more pious.’
      • ‘He's a pious hypocrite and a greedy, petty, stupid, mean-minded crook.’
      • ‘I mean, that sounds rather pious, but that is the way it is.’
      • ‘I am referring to the word that means ‘insincere talk, especially concerning morals; 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.’
      • ‘We will doubtless hear some pious hypocrisies from Jack Straw.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and ‘the rule of law.’’
      • ‘His answer to all these questions is the pious platitude, ‘one standard of citizenship’.’
      • ‘He said all the pious words about fresh air and cuddly animals but nothing about the obligations which might be imposed on industry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If one is looking for pious platitudes, this is not the place to come.’
      • ‘They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering.’
      • ‘Yet it has evolved as the major challenge of our day, demanding responses beyond pious platitudes.’
      • ‘Once again, there is no sign of any reaction from the United Nations beyond pious platitudes.’
      • ‘The sheer supercilious, pious hypocracy fair takes the breath away.’
      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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘"Cheats never prosper " is a pious hope rather than a reality.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This was to prove a pious hope, the costs doubling over the period.’
      • ‘For socialists, it is not an empty phrase or a pious wish.’
      • ‘That has turned out to be little more than a pious hope.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Yet reality must be confronted, if reconciliation is to be more than a pious hope.’
      • ‘Well, it would be nice to think that the pious hopes expressed in the Speech from the Throne would result in real action.’
      • ‘The option to renew is nothing other than what Cote calls ‘a pious hope that an agreement may later be reached’.’
      • ‘This announcement should be seen as a pious hope rather than as a political reality.’
      • ‘The document it produced was toothless, consisting of many pious hopes and a few unenforceable targets.’
      • ‘Their slogan is ‘there has to be a better way’, but they cannot specify anything more than pious hopes.’
      • ‘They harbour the pious hope that change is easier from within than from without.’
      • ‘The publication of this special edition of Folklore suggests that this possibility is now more than a pipe-dream or 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.’
      • ‘However, their recommendation so far remained a pious wish without suitable legislative support.’
      • ‘Their response, however, consists of a pathetic mixture of pious wishes and unrealistic hopes.’
      • ‘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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Proper behavior means to be loyal, filially pious respectful and trustworthy.’


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