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
  1. adjective
    of or relating to Puritans or Puritanism
  2. adjective
    morally rigorous and strict
    “she was anything but puritanical in her behavior”
    synonyms: blue, puritanic
    nonindulgent, strict
    characterized by strictness, severity, or restraint
  3. adjective
    exaggeratedly proper
    synonyms: priggish, prim, prissy, prudish, square-toed, straight-laced, straightlaced, strait-laced, straitlaced, tight-laced, victorian
    marked by suitability or rightness or appropriateness
Cite this entry
  • MLA
  • APA
  • Chicago

Copy citation
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘puritanical'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up puritanical for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer