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Borrowed from Latin pīus (pious, dutiful, blessed, kind, devout), from Proto-Indo-European *pewH- (pure). Cognate with Old English fǣle (faithful, trusty, good; dear, beloved). More at feal.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpaɪəs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪəs


pious (comparative more pious, superlative most pious)

  1. Of or pertaining to piety, exhibiting piety, devout, god-fearing.
    • 1850, T. S. Arthur, “Deacon Smith and his Violin”, in Sketches of Life and Character[1], Philadelphia: J. W. Bradley, →OCLC, page 74:
      Old Deacon Smith was quick to see the impression made by Abby Howard upon the mind of his son, and he was wonderfully pleased thereat, for Abby was the oldest daughter of the good Deacon Howard, and was herself a church member, and pious. He had more hope for his son now, than he had felt for years.
    • 2014 December, Paul Salopek, “Blessed. Cursed. Claimed.”, in National Geographic[2], archived from the original on 12 February 2015:
      Its male residents dress like crows: heavy black suits, black Borsalino hats, the old grandfathers hugely whiskered and the boys in peot, the curled sidelocks of the pious.
  2. Relating to religion or religious works.
    A pious cause.
  3. Insisting on or making a show of one's own virtue, especially in comparison to others; sanctimonious, condescending, judgmental.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Sometimes used pejoratively, in the sense of "mistaken" or "false" piety, as in "pious errors", "pious frauds".




Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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