Mobile Banner


a moralizing lecture


homily = Moralpredigt, Predigt, Homilie



“A leadership contest will be rich in Thatcherite HOMILIES but unlikely to resolve the party’s simultaneous desires for low taxes, balanced budgets and expansive public services.”

The Economist - ‘A monstrous in-tray awaits Boris Johnson’s eventual successor’ (7th July 2022)

Did you


- a sermon on a moral or religious topic

- a piece of spoken or written advice about how someone should behave

- an inspirational catchphrase

Dictionary dot com / The Cambridge Dictionary / Merriam-Webster


The story starts with ancient Greek homilos, meaning “crowd” or “assembly”. Greeks used homilos to create the verb homilein (“to consort with” or “to address”), as well as the noun homilia (“conversation”). Latin speakers borrowed homilia, then passed it on to Anglo-French. By the time it crossed into Middle English, the spelling had shifted to omelie, but by the mid-16th century the term had regained its “h” and the “y” of the modern spelling was added.

“Sermon”, from Old French sermon, sermun (10th century) meaning “speech, words, discourse; church sermon, homily”, from Latin sermo(n) meaning “discourse, talk”.

Merriam-Webster / Etymology Online


As a visiting preacher, D. L. Moody was warned that some of the congregation usually left before the end of the sermon. When he rose to begin his sermon, he announced, ‘I am going to speak to two classes of people this morning; first to the sinners, then to the saints.’ He proceeded to address the ‘sinners’ for a while, and then said they could leave. For once, every member of the congregation stayed to the end of the sermon.

Dwight Lyman Moody (1837–1899) was an American evangelist famous for his dynamic speaking style.

While preaching a sermon one day, John Wesley was dismayed to find that several members of his congregation had fallen asleep. “Fire! Fire!” he suddenly cried, whereupon the guilty parishioners jumped up with alarm. “Where?” they demanded, glancing around. “In hell,” Wesley replied, “for those who sleep under the preaching of the Word!”

John Wesley (1703–1791), the founder of Methodism, preached an incredible 40,000 sermons.

One day early in his career, Billy Graham arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Hoping to run some errands first, he approached a young boy on the street and asked him where he might mail a letter. After the boy had directed him to a post office, Graham thanked him and invited him to attend the sermon. “If you’ll come to the Baptist church this evening,” Graham said, “you can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there.” the youngster replied, “You don’t even know your way to the post office!”

William Franklin Graham Jr. (1918–2018) was an American evangelist whose estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2 billion by 2008.


- a religious discourse which is intended primarily for spiritual edification rather than doctrinal instruction; a moralization

advice, allocution, appeal, bombast, broadside, descant, discourse, disquisition, dramatic monologue, drone, effusion, exhortation, harangue, holding forth, HOMILY, moralism, oration, oratory, pastoral, pep talk, preaching, preachment, predication, sermon, soapbox, teaching, tirade, whaikorero

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Imagine a HOMILY denouncing HOMILIES … would that be a meta-HOMILY?”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:


Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

More Word Quizzes: