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From Late Latin Pharisaicus +‎ -al.



pharisaical (comparative more pharisaical, superlative most pharisaical)

  1. Of or pertaining to the Pharisees. [from 16th c.]
  2. (chiefly Christianity) Emphasizing the observance of ritual or practice over the meaning; self-righteous, hypocritical. [from 16th c.]
    • 1838, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Duty and Inclination, volume III, London: Henry Colburn, page 235:
      Perhaps no man in the world had less than Douglas the pharisaical precision of Methodism; he was totally averse to their sudden and evanescent flights of enthusiasm, their frantic ravings of intemperate zeal in devotion, as if invoking a vindictive and implacable Deity; []
    • 2012, Piers Brendon, ‘Beginning the Dissent’, Literary Review, vol. 401:
      Thus Aurobindo Ghose stated that the puritanical, pharisaical British conquered in the name of liberty and usurped under the cloak of altruism.


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