decadent

1 of 2

adjective

dec·​a·​dent ˈde-kə-dənt How to pronounce decadent (audio)
 also  di-ˈkā-
1
: characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence
a rich and decadent dessert
the hotel's decadent luxury
2
: marked by decay or decline
an increasingly decadent society
3
literature : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a group of late 19th century French and English writers tending toward artificial and unconventional subjects and subtilized style : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the decadents (see decadent entry 2 sense 1)
decadently adverb

decadent

2 of 2

noun

1
literature : one of a group of late 19th century French and English writers tending toward artificial and unconventional subjects and subtilized style
2
: one that is marked by decay or decline : one that is decadent (see decadent entry 1 sense 2)

Did you know?

To be decadent is to be in the process of decay, so a powerful nation may be said to be in a decadent stage if its power is fading. But the word is more often used to speak of moral decay. Ever since the Roman empire, we've tended to link Rome's fall to the moral decay of its ruling class, who indulged in extreme luxuries and unwholesome pleasures while providing the public with cruel spectacles such as the slaughter of the gladiators. But not everyone agrees on what moral decadence looks like (or even how it might have hastened the fall of Rome), though most people think it involves too many sensual pleasures—as, for instance, among the French and English poets and artists of the 1880s and ʼ90s called the Decadents. These days, for some reason, people have decided decadent is the way to describe rich chocolate cakes.

Example Sentences

Adjective The book condemns some of society's wealthiest members as decadent fools. a wealthy and decadent lifestyle a decadent hotel room, complete with a hot tub We relaxed in decadent luxury. Noun avant-garde artists who were scorned by the bourgeoisie as talentless decadents a decadent who squandered her once considerable family fortune See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Definitely romantic and decadent in fabrication and cut. José Criales-unzueta, Vogue, 11 Jan. 2023 Upgrade your hot chocolate with one of these decadent and rich homemade hot chocolate recipes. Erynn Hassinger, Country Living, 29 Nov. 2022 Impressive, decadent and easy to assemble, this is a suitable vegetarian entree for Thanksgiving or other celebratory meals. Joe Yonan, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2022 There is something about dining on mussels that feels decadent and festive for the holidays. Trish Clasen Marsanico, Good Housekeeping, 3 Nov. 2022 But while grilling seafood can be trickier than other meats, one super easy but decadent and delicious exception is split lobster tails. Larry Olmsted, Forbes, 19 May 2022 Bonus: The restaurant also has a separate bar that's perfect for enjoying slightly less formal fare like decadent lobster rolls, uni zeppole, and caviar tastings. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 3 Jan. 2023 This rich, decadent cream is formulated specifically for dry and sensitive skin types and provides immediate moisture replenishment through shea butter, apricot oil, honey, and glycerin. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 27 Dec. 2022 Located on South Congress, the seafood restaurant is known for it’s raw bar and decadent lobster rolls, with La Grande Dame champagne to pair with both. Ariana Yaptangco, ELLE, 14 Oct. 2022
Noun
Vosges has made a name for themselves with their decadent, uniquely flavored truffles. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 22 Dec. 2022 Vosges has made a name for themselves with their decadent, uniquely flavored truffles. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 22 Dec. 2022 In The Kitchen, this decadent lasagna gets its protein from hot Italian sausage, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Alexa Tucker, Men's Health, 21 Dec. 2022 To complement the decadent Pierre Frey wallcovering in a recent Colette van den Thillart Toronto project, a pea-green sage on the dining room’s woodwork mirrors the walls’ sinuous vines. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, 15 Dec. 2022 Over the season’s seven episodes, the show juxtaposed American innocents and decadent Europeans, bringing to mind Henry James and Graham Greene, but also Patricia Highsmith and Elena Ferrante. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 12 Dec. 2022 Vosges has made a name for themselves with their decadent, uniquely flavored truffles. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 22 Dec. 2022 Vosges has made a name for themselves with their decadent, uniquely flavored truffles. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 5 Dec. 2022 What's better than 25 of Delysia's decadent, delicious chocolates? Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 22 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decadent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Noun

back-formation from decadence

First Known Use

Adjective

1837, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of decadent was in 1837

Dictionary Entries Near decadent

Cite this Entry

“Decadent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decadent. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

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