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WordWealth: sententious

sen·ten·tious , adj.

1. abounding in pithy aphorisms or maxims: a sententious book. 2. given to excessive moralizing; self-righteous. 3. given to or using pithy sayings or maxims: a sententious poet. 4. of the nature of a maxim; pithy.

[1400–50; late ME < L sententiōsus meaningful. See SENTENCE, -OUS]

sen·tentious·ly, adv.

sen·tentious·ness, sen·ten·ti·os·i·ty , n.

Syn.2. preachy, didactic, sanctimonious, moralistic.

 (Random House Webster's Unabridged). Look at Thesaurus

Such is the pattern of the book. For each poem that comes across as a little gimmicky, a little too clearly the working-out of a good idea, there are several that have a winning aptness. And, for each time Greenlaw's open-ended statements and pared-down sentences become slightly sententious or frustratingly elliptical, there are many instances where they become powerfully suggestive and invite the reader to linger and give the poem time to offer up its secrets. —— Lavinia Greenlaw; 'Surface tension', collection shows a fascination with clothes and skin, polish and veneer; the Guardian, Jan 17, 2004


Brideshead Revisited (1945) is a romantic evocation of vanished splendors, which brings into dismal relief the aridity of the present. In the first part, in which the narrator reverts to his youth at Oxford, Waugh's artistic sense seldom falters. Ryder's discovery of a magic world of freedom and intoxicating pleasures through his friendship with Sebastian, the younger son of a noble and wealthy Catholic family, and the accompanying contrast between the dryness of Ryder's home life and the charm of the Marchmains -- these passages are among the most memorable that Waugh has written. But, in the second part -- Ryder's unhappy marriage and love affair with Sebastian's sister; Sebastian's descent into alcoholism; Lord Marchmain's irregular and resplendent life in Venice, and his death in his ancestral home -- those failings of Waugh's which were discussed earlier run riot. And, as they take command, the characterization grows unreal, the atmosphere becomes sententious, the style turns overripe. —— Charles J. Rolo; 'Evelyn Waugh: The Best and The Worst'; the Atlantic; Oct 1954


Why was the old immigration -- the white European diaspora of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries -- "what made this country great," as sententious orators still insist, whereas the new immigration gives polarizing politicians an irresistible target? To think through this question, to help inform the coming debate on immigration, The Atlantic offers the following two articles ('Can We Still Afford to Be a Nation of Immigrants?', 'The New Economics of Immigration'). —— The Price of Immigration; the Atlantic; Nov 1996

''If America is as flawed as detractors say, if it is a self-centered, gluttonous bully with a racist past and a soul-less center,'' Hertsgaard asks, ''why are millions of people from around the world willing to do nearly anything to immigrate here?''--Sadly, his exploration of this question never gets far along. Hertsgaard gives us fleeting perceptions of the United States from a handful of foreigners. He clutters most of the book with clichéd and sententious rants about the shallowness of American culture, the debacle that passed for our most recent presidential election and our backing of sordid little dictatorships around the world. Then, often within just a few pages, he will turn around, as if to save himself from accusations of being a self-hating American, and extol our virtues. The swing from moralistic excoriation to patriotic blurbs gives ''The Eagle's Shadow'' an aura of bizarre disconnect. —— Chris Hedges in 'Global Village Idiots', the article responds to the book 'The Eagle's Shadow', Why America fascinates and infuriates the world; New York Times; Dec 15, 2002, Sunday

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