avarice

noun
av·​a·​rice | \ ˈa-və-rəs How to pronounce avarice (audio) , ˈav-rəs \

Definition of avarice

: excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain : greediness, cupidity

Word History of Avarice

A more formal synonym for greed, avarice has a long if uncomplicated history in English. Chaucer in his 14th-century The Parson's Tale compared avarice with covetise, a now obsolete word that means "covetousness" ("Covetise is to covet such things as thou hast not; and avarice is to withhold and keep such things as thou hast, without rightful need"—743), and Shakespeare uses it in Macbeth ("With this there grows / In my most ill-composed affection such / A stanchless avarice that, were I king, / I should cut off the nobles for their lands, / Desire his jewels and this other's house: / And my more-having would be as a sauce / To make me hunger more"—IV.iii.76-82).

Avarice has also appeared in various translations of the Bible, usually in verses that describe the attributes of those who do not follow God, and has historically been listed as one of the seven deadly sins.

Examples of avarice in a Sentence

Adherence to the Baldwin model is usually more a sin of thoughtlessness and convenience than of conscious avarice, though it is always an appropriation of moral power, a stealing of thunder. — Shelby Steele, Harper's, November 2002 … a company of artists, among them the young Thomas Nast, seated at rows of desks in a high-ceilinged studio overlooking the avarice and deviltry walking in and out of New York's City Hall. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, June 2000 Unlike the rest of us, stuck in our jobs, choking on carbon monoxide, heeling around on overpriced shoes, recovering from a decade of avarice, Chip works and he's tanned and happy. — Peter Wilkinson, Rolling Stone, 11-25 July 1991 Nor was private avarice their besetting sin although they were as subject as most men to the stings of ambition. — Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, 1984 The corporate world is plagued by avarice and a thirst for power. He was driven by avarice. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Correspondent David Pogue talks with former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and economist Mike Konczal about the legitimacy of corporate avarice. CBS News, 8 July 2022 Zellweger gets to play avarice, as Pam really wants that money, but also a sort of delusional neediness. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 7 Mar. 2022 The show continually gestures at Anna being representative of something—American avarice, maybe? Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 11 Feb. 2022 This is no longer a time for avarice or sloth or inactiveness or ineptitude. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 28 Feb. 2022 As the King of Deception, his ulterior intent has to be hidden in greed and avarice. Bob Larsen, SPIN, 12 Feb. 2022 Unconvincingly, the only victims of the runaway capitalism of the late 19th century seem to be other rich people, punished for their underhanded avarice. Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2022 The story holds all the flashy gowns, juicy family drama and backstabbing power struggles — plus infidelity, avarice, and murder — made to order for the silver screen. Robert Daniels, Vulture, 26 Nov. 2021 Stephenson's books can be sharply critical of the tech world's avarice and political blind spots, but people with Silicon Valley-ish tendencies adore him nonetheless. Adam Rogers, Wired, 26 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of avarice

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for avarice

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin avaritia, from avarus avaricious, from avēre to crave — more at avid

Learn More About avarice

Time Traveler for avarice

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The first known use of avarice was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near avarice

Avarian

avarice

avaricious

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Last Updated

17 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Avarice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avarice. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for avarice

avarice

noun
av·​a·​rice | \ ˈa-və-rəs How to pronounce avarice (audio) , ˈav-rəs \

Kids Definition of avarice

: strong desire for riches : greed

More from Merriam-Webster on avarice

Nglish: Translation of avarice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of avarice for Arabic Speakers

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