In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue. While different people may understand its meaning differently, it is generally used to refer either to religious devotion or to spirituality, or often, a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.


The word piety comes from the Latin word "pietas", the noun form of the adjective "pius", which means "devout" or "good".

It can refer to a way to win the favor or forgiveness of one's God, or gods, (i.e., to propitiate Him/them). According to some, this type of piety does not necessarily require the spiritual piety, while others refrain from distinguishing the two.

It is also used by others to refer only to external signs that result from the spiritual aspect of piety. That is, according to some, if one is "truly" pious (in the spiritual sense), the natural and inevitable result of it will be religious piety. By this definition, then, piety can be either genuine, in that it springs from spiritual piety, or false, in that it is an attempt to exhibit the signs of piety for their own sake, or for some other reason, (such as propitiation or public esteem).

In Catholicism and Anglicanism, piety is one of the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Religious movements

Pietism as a movement within Lutheranism was strong from the late-17th century to the mid-18th century.

See also

*Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates seeks a definition of piety.
*pietas, the Roman virtue
*filial piety, a Confucian virtue

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  • Piety — Pi e*ty, n. [F. pi[ e]t[ e]; cf. It. piet[ a]; both fr. L. pietas piety, fr. pius pious. See {Pious}, and cf. {Pity}.] 1. Veneration or reverence of the Supreme Being, and love of his character; loving obedience to the will of God, and earnest… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • piety — (n.) late 12c., from O.Fr. piete (12c.), from L. pietatem (nom. pietas) dutiful conduct, kindness, piety, from pius kind (see PIOUS (Cf. pious)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • piety — devotion, *fidelity, allegiance, fealty, loyalty Analogous words: obedience, docility (see corresponding adjectives at OBEDIENT): fervor, ardor, zeal, enthusiasm, *passion: *holiness, sanctity Antonyms: impiety …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • piety — [n] devotion, religiousness allegiance, application, ardor, belief, devoutness, docility, dutifulness, duty, faith, fealty, fervor, fidelity, godliness, grace, holiness, loyalty, obedience, passion, religion, religiosity, reverence, sanctity,… …   New thesaurus

  • piety — ► NOUN (pl. pieties) 1) the quality of being pious or reverent. 2) a conventional belief accepted unthinkingly. ORIGIN Latin pietas, from pius dutiful …   English terms dictionary

  • piety — [pī′ə tē] n. pl. pieties [OFr pieté < LL(Ec) pietas, duty to God < L, dutiful conduct, scrupulousness < pius: see PIOUS] 1. devotion to religious duties and practices 2. loyalty and devotion to parents, family, etc. 3. a pious act,… …   English World dictionary

  • Piety — (Roget s Thesaurus) < N PARAG:Piety >N GRP: N 1 Sgm: N 1 piety piety religion theism faith Sgm: N 1 religiousness religiousness holiness &c. >Adj. Sgm: N 1 saintship saintship Sgm: N 1 religionism …   English dictionary for students

  • piety — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) Devoutness Nouns 1. piety, piousness, devoutness; religion, theism, faith, belief; religiousness, holiness, saintliness; reverence, worship, veneration, devotion; grace, unction, edification; sanctity,… …   English dictionary for students

  • piety — /puy i tee/, n., pl. pieties. 1. reverence for God or devout fulfillment of religious obligations: a prayer full of piety. 2. the quality or state of being pious: saintly piety. 3. dutiful respect or regard for parents, homeland, etc.: filial… …   Universalium

  • piety — noun (plural pieties) Etymology: French pieté piety, pity, from Old French, from Latin pietat , pietas, from pius dutiful, pious Date: 1579 1. the quality or state of being pious: as a. fidelity to natural obligations (as to parents) b.… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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