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sermon +‎ -ize


sermonize (third-person singular simple present sermonizes, present participle sermonizing, simple past and past participle sermonized)

  1. (intransitive) To speak in the manner of a sermon; to preach; to propagate one's morality or opinions with speech.
    • 1636, Henry Burton, For God, and the King, Amsterdam: J.F. Stam, p. 150,[1]
      And doe not our Prelates thus, when [] they disgrace and traduce Preaching, calling it in scorne, Sermonizing?
    • 1776, Elizabeth Griffith, The Story of Lady Juliana Harley, London: T. Cadell, Volume 1, Letter 1, p. 2,[2]
      Don’t be alarmed, I am not going to sermonize—but what is almost as dull, to narrate.
    • 1872, George Eliot, Middlemarch, Chapter 45,[3]
      [] I am perhaps talking rather superfluously; but a man likes to assume superiority over himself, by holding up his bad example and sermonizing on it.”
    • 1949, Sinclair Lewis, The God-Seeker, New York: Popular Library, Chapter 13, p. 69,[4]
      [] she would distrust him if she saw him again before he had achieved all his promises; had journeyed clear out to the Mississippi [] and had become fluent in sermonizing in the Dakota language. No, he must see her next in his glory as a practicing missionary.
    • 1983, Cynthia Ozick, The Cannibal Galaxy, New York: Dutton, 1984, p. 12,[5]
      Sometimes Claude would lead Joseph to the Louvre—a magnificence Joseph had never before entered—and point out the darker paintings and sermonize on them; Claude was an aesthete.
  2. (transitive) To preach a sermon to (somebody); to give (somebody) instruction or admonishment on the basis of one's morality or opinions.
    • 1798, Thomas Holcroft, He’s Much to Blame, London: G.G. and J. Robinson, Act IV, Scene 11, pp. 68-69,[6]
      He wishes, I suppose, to sermonize me: but I shall not give him an opportunity—
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Chapter 17,[7]
      [] we sermonised her on the presumption of attempting to teach such clever blades as we were, when she was herself so ignorant.”
    • 1869, Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book, London: Smith, Elder, Volume 4, Book 10, lines 459-461, p. 21,[8]
      Why was the choice o’ the man to niche himself
      Perversely ’neath the tower where Time’s own tongue
      Thus undertakes to sermonize the world?
    • 1914, Arnold Bennett, The Price of Love, London: Methuen, Chapter 6, p. 126,[9]
      He could talk morals to others in the grand manner, and with positive enjoyment, but to be sermonized himself secretly exasperated him because it constrained him and made him self-conscious.
    • 1953, Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March, New York: Viking, 1960, Chapter 3, p. 28,[10]
      [] maybe she sermonized us both about love because of her sons.
  3. (transitive) To say in the manner of a sermon or lecture.
    • 1896, Abraham Cahan, Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto, New York: Appleton, Chapter 7, p. 151,[11]
      “Children, children! Woe, how you do sin!” Mrs. Kavarsky sermonized. “Come now, obey an older person []
    • 1917, George Creel (uncredited author) and Douglas Fairbanks, Laugh and Live, New York: Britton, Chapter 17, p. 144,[12]
      Then as one man they jumped to their feet and by reason of prolonged cheering gave national impulse to a thought which has since been sermonized from thousands of pulpits.
    • 1960, Paul Bartlett, When the Owl Cries, New York: Macmillan, Chapter 11,[13]
      “I tell you, we’re in for bad times,” de Selva sermonized before a group. “Our haciendas are threatened by renegades []
  4. (intransitive) To inculcate rigid rules.
    • 1748, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Letters to His Son, London: J. Dodsley, 6th edition, 1775, Volume 1, Letter 106, p. 309,[14]
      If you consider my letters in their true light as conveying to you the advice of a Friend, who sincerely wishes you happiness, and desires to promote your pleasures, you will both read and attend them; but, if you consider them in their opposite, and very false light, as the dictates of a morose and sermonizing Father, I am sure they will be not only unattended to, but unread.


  • (speak in the manner of a sermon): moralize
  • (preach a sermon to (somebody)): lecture

Usage notesEdit

The term sermonize generally carries a negative connotation (implying dreariness, longwindedness, imposing one’s beliefs on others, etc.) that is not shared by such phrases as deliver a sermon, preach a sermon, etc.