odor of sanctity

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odor of sanctity

1. Literally, a specific scent said to emanate from the body of a saint of the Catholic Church. I had never believed it, but upon entering the small crypt that held the saint's remains, I too could perceive the odor of sanctity so many religious writers had detailed before.
2. By extension, a state of grace, saintliness, or holiness. The nun, who tirelessly devoted her life to helping the poor of her nation, died in an odor of sanctity at the age of 97.
3. Smug and often hypocritical moral or social righteousness; sanctimoniousness. The author provides an extremely compelling moral argument, without enshrouding the entire narrative with an odor of sanctity.
See also: odor, of, sanctity
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

odor of sanctity

Fig. an atmosphere of excessive holiness or piety. I hate their house. There's such an odor of sanctity with Bibles and holy pictures everywhere. The huge, medieval Gothic cathedral had a distinct odor of sanctity.
See also: odor, of, sanctity
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

odor of sanctity

Exaggerated or hypocritical piety, an assumption of moral superiority, as in This candidate puts off some voters with his odor of sanctity. This expression, originating in the medieval idea that the dead body of a saintly individual gives off a sweet smell, was used to describe saintliness in the mid-1700s. Today it is generally used ironically.
See also: odor, of, sanctity
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

odour of sanctity

1 a state of holiness. 2 sanctimoniousness. derogatory
This expression is a translation of the French idiom odeur de sainteté . It refers to a sweet or balsamic odour which was reputedly emitted by the bodies of saints at or after death, and which was regarded as evidence of their sanctity.
See also: odour, of, sanctity
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

odor of sanctity, the

A reputation for holiness. Today generally used ironically, for extreme or hypocritical piety, this term is based on the medieval notion that the dead body of a saintly person gives off a sweet smell. From this came, “He died in the odor of sanctity,” meaning he died a saint, which later was extended to mean saintliness in general. G. K. Chesterton used it in his poem “A Song of Self-Esteem”—“The Faith of Tennessee has wafted o’er the sea, the odour of its sanctity—and Golly how it stank!”—in which he derided the prosecution of John Scopes in 1925 for teaching evolution in his class at the Dayton (Tennessee) High School.
See also: odor, of
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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