Strict, straight laced, and unsmiling, someone who is puritanical follows moral or religious rules to the letter.

Describing someone as puritanical is usually a bit of a criticism, since the word implies that the person is not just religious, but overly rigid in his or her beliefs and not a lot of fun to be around. It stems from the word "Puritan," a believer in the branch of Protestantism that objected to some practices of the Church of England. Its root, in turn, is thought to be purity, which is what puritanical people seek when they stick to the rules.

Definitions of puritanical

adj of or relating to Puritans or Puritanism

adj morally rigorous and strict

“she was anything but puritanical in her behavior”
blue, puritanic
nonindulgent, strict
characterized by strictness, severity, or restraint

adj exaggeratedly proper

priggish, prim, prissy, prudish, square-toed, straight-laced, straightlaced, strait-laced, straitlaced, tight-laced, victorian
marked by suitability or rightness or appropriateness

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.