Hypocrite Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

This is your blueprint to understanding the meaning of hypocrite with definitions, etymology, synonyms, examples, and explanations.

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When a word gets hurled around as an insult, the actual definition of the word can get lost. It’s essential for healthy dialogue to understand words before you use them, especially if you intend to direct them towards someone else. 

Knowing the definition, history, and common uses of a word will make you better equipped to use it in conversation and understand it when you hear it or read it. Hypocrite is one word you should understand before you use it.

What Is the Definition of Hypocrite?

According to English dictionaries, the noun hypocrite is defined as a person who pretends to be something they are not. A hypocrite is also a person who practices hypocrisy

Basically, hypocrite means someone who professes beliefs or claims to have opinions that they do not actually hold to hide their real motives, intentions, or feelings.

To understand the word hypocrite better, it may help to examine the word hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the practice of having stated beliefs that do not coincide with a person’s own behavior or real feelings. This is often related to a false pretender of virtue or piety.

Hypocrite also relates to the adjective hypocritical, which describes when someone has a false appearance that is a contradiction of their true self. The pronunciation of hypocrite and related words are similar:

  • Hypocrite is pronounced hyp-o-crit.
  • Hypocrisy is pronounced hy-poc-ri-sy.
  • Hypocritical is pronounced hyp-o-crit-i-cal.

What Is the Origin of Hypocrite?

A word’s etymology is its linguistic history. Like a character’s origin story, you can learn a lot about a word by examining the words that led its creation. Sometimes, the word maintains elements of the original pronunciation or meaning. For other words, the meaning and sound could have changed significantly.

The word hypocrite comes directly from the Middle English ipocrite. Middle English was a period of about 300 years that represents the transitional period from Old English to Modern English. Before Middle English, the roots of the word can be traced to the Old French ypocrite, the Old French ypocrisie, and the Old French ipocrite, which held the same meaning as Middle and Modern English’s hypocrite. 

Ypocrite can trace its roots to the Late Latin hypocrita and hypocrisis. The ecclesiastical Latin hypocrita in turn comes from the Greek hypokritḗs, the Attic Greek hypokrisis, or the Greek hupokritēs, which meant “actor.” It related to the word hupokrinein, which meant “to feign.” Meanwhile, hupokrinein was related to the Greek krinein, which meant “to judge.” 

The Greek hupokritēs was from the Ancient Greek hupokrīnesthai and hupokrinomai.  The Greek root word hypokri meant “to reply, make an answer, play a part on stage” and was added to the –tēs agent suffix. 

How Do We Use the Word Hypocrite?

It’s quite common to hear the word hypocrite used as an insult to mean that a person portrays one intention or action in public and does the opposite, usually in private.

The word is thrown around a lot in politics. Political hypocrisy is a pretty common practice for political benefit, as empty promises can help win campaigns.

According to British political philosopher David Runciman, there are different kinds of hypocritical deception in moral psychology, such as:

  • Failing to follow your own expressed moral rules or principles
  • Lacking knowledge that you claim to possess
  • Claiming consistency that you cannot sustain
  • Claiming loyalty that you don’t have
  • Claiming an identity that you do not possess

Many people use the hypocrite to describe those who behave with a pretense that they have no sins or with an appearance of piety. They perform gestures to replicate some form of godliness, but they’re an imitation of a person who practices true religion. The word should only be used if you have a good deal of confidence that what you’re saying is true, or in turn, you might be called a slanderer for judging the intentions of another person.

What Are Synonyms of the Word Hypocrite?

Synonyms are related words that mean essentially the same thing. Learning synonyms for a word can help you understand the definition more fully. Here are synonyms for the word hypocrite:

  • Bigot
  • Crook
  • Phony
  • Imposter
  • Actor
  • Trickster
  • Fraud
  • Deceiver
  • Cheat

What Are Antonyms of the Word Hypocrite?

Antonyms are words that have an opposite definition of the word. These opposite words help us learn what the word does not mean, and that can help us learn the meaning of a word more in-depth. Here are antonyms of the word hypocrite:

  • Saint
  • Believer
  • Fanatic
  • Genuine person

Examples of How To Use Hypocrite

Example sentences help us see how we should use a word in context, and it can be a guide to how to include the word in our everyday conversations and writings. Here are a few examples of how to use hypocrite in a sentence:

  • He was called out as the hypocrite he truly is.
  • I’d rather tell an ugly truth or be embarrassingly honest than be labeled as a hypocrite.
  • A hypocrite used to simply mean that someone was an actor before it morphed into such a negative insult.
  • If you can’t practice what you preach, you’re a hypocrite.
  • In the Bible, Job 8:13 states, “The hypocrite’s hope shall perish.”
  • Lautrec wasn’t a hypocrite or a sentimentalist, and he was a good source on the morals of the times.

The Last Word

It is imperative that we know and understand the words we use, but this is even more true when we are using those words to insult or call out the misdeeds of others. Remember that words are powerful, and you should use them effectively and for good reason. 


  1. HYPOCRITE | Cambridge English Dictionary 
  2. Hypocrisy Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com 
  3. Political Hypocrisy | Princeton University Press