The dictionary definition of hypocrite is : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

I need some clarification on how to use it.

Example - one person is saying words like -

  1. he is always there for you
  2. he will help you in times of need

And when the time comes he disappears. Or things like that a person says at a verbal level which appear very appealing, but doesn't convert to action level

Could we say that the above behavior is hypocritical? Will that be a correct word to use ?
Another scenario
A person praises a spiritual guru a lot and give advice to others on the same. But when it comes to his own family he has a different behaviour.

Can this behaviour be called hypocritical?


he will help you in times of need ... when the time comes he disappears

No. This is simply lying. However if he says he expects you to do this because it is "right" and then fails to do it himself, he is being hypocritical.

A person praises a spiritual guru a lot and give advice to others on the same. But when it comes to his own family he has a different behaviour.

Yes. There is an idiom, "If you talk the talk, then you must be prepared to walk the walk."

This means that, if you preach an idea, you must be prepared to follow your own teachings. In fact there is another idiom, "Practise what you preach."

If someone does not follow the guidelines that they profess to or that they expect from others then they are guilty of hypocrisy.

  • What about behavior like - A parent may tell his child to get ahead in his career and earn money. But in front of someone else he may say money is not important. This kind of behaviour is very common. One has different behaviour to his own kids , than another. Could this be also called hypocritical?
    – pensee
    Jan 12 at 11:11
  • Yes. According to this definition, "a situation in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe" dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/hypocrisy that is indeed hypocrisy. Jan 12 at 13:21
  • Although not the direct intent of the question. Is there a good synonym of hypocrisy?
    – pensee
    Jan 12 at 14:38
  • There some really good ones! Here are two links. thesaurus.com/browse/hypocrisy?s=t and freethesaurus.com/hypocrisy - If you want to see which applies best to your scenario about parents, maybe you should ask a separate question. Jan 12 at 14:42
  • what about things scenarios - 1) I have noticed some people say I know this I know that. I have read this book, I have read that book. Which they haven't. It seems some of these people get taken over by some urge or anxiety to say things like that. Will this be also classified as lying? or is there a better word for this 2) What about a person believing something very strongly and telling the same to others. Like religious fanatics etc. In this case, he is lying but unaware of it.
    – pensee
    Jan 13 at 7:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .