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adjective ob·scene \äb-ˈsēn, əb-\

Simple Definition of obscene

  • : relating to sex in an indecent or offensive way

  • : very offensive in usually a shocking way

  • : so large an amount or size as to be very shocking or unfair

Full Definition of obscene

  1. 1 :  disgusting to the senses :  repulsive

  2. 2 a :  abhorrent to morality or virtue; specifically :  designed to incite to lust or depravity b :  containing or being language regarded as taboo in polite usage <obscene lyrics> c :  repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles <an obscene misuse of power> d :  so excessive as to be offensive <obscene wealth> <obscene waste>

ob·scene·ly adverb

Examples of obscene

  1. He was accused of making obscene phone calls.

  2. He made an obscene gesture at the driver who cut him off.

  3. The company's executives earn obscene salaries.

  4. He spends an obscene amount of money on clothes.

Origin of obscene

Middle French, from Latin obscenus, obscaenus

First Known Use: 1593

Synonym Discussion of obscene

coarse, vulgar, gross, obscene, ribald mean offensive to good taste or morals. coarse implies roughness, rudeness, or crudeness of spirit, behavior, or language <found the coarse humor of coworkers offensive>. vulgar often implies boorishness or ill-breeding <a loud vulgar belch>. gross implies extreme coarseness and insensitiveness <gross eating habits>. obscene applies to anything strongly repulsive to the sense of decency and propriety especially in sexual matters <obscene language not allowed on the air>. ribald applies to what is amusingly or picturesquely vulgar or irreverent or mildly indecent <entertained the campers with ribald folk songs>.

Seen and Heard

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February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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