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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But the pouting silver pitcher that symbolizes the race has never been a vessel for commercial avarice. Luke O'brien, Town & Country, "Hot Pursuit," 1 Sep. 2013 While the Catholic Church labeled envy, pride and avarice cardinal sins, for Mandeville these vices had public benefits. Stephen Miller, WSJ, "Economic Liberty Turns Vice Into Virtue," 14 Nov. 2018 Riches, poverty, piratical avarice, life as a beach. Horatio Clare, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why You Should Go to Belize Now," 21 Dec. 2018 The commercial possibilities are beyond the dreams of avarice. Dan Neil, WSJ, "The First Flying-Car Review," 12 Sep. 2018 And no shortage of philosophical reflection on nature, ego and avarice. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘King Lear’ Review: A Timeless Tale With a Modern King," 27 Sep. 2018 Ben Esposito Donut County is a game about how ignorance and avarice swallow everything in their path. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Donut County is a game about swallowing Los Angeles and realizing you’re an asshole," 1 Sep. 2018 Milk’s significance as a symbol of gay liberation has eclipsed the reality of the man—a political latecomer and rhetorical savant, whose compassion for the dispossessed vied with an avarice for publicity that sometimes drew him toward populism. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 24 June 2018 Here's a look at some of the first wives whose avarice and hunger for power came to define them and by extension their husbands in power. Fox News, "Sara Netanyahu preceded by avarice of other first wives," 22 June 2018

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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near avarice

Avar

avaram bark

Avarian

avarice

avaricious

Avarish

Avarua

Statistics for avarice

Last Updated

9 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for avarice

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

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More Definitions for avarice

avarice

noun

English Language Learners Definition of avarice

formal + disapproving : a strong desire to have or get money

avarice

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

Kids Definition of avarice

: strong desire for riches : greed

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More from Merriam-Webster on avarice

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for avarice

Spanish Central: Translation of avarice

Nglish: Translation of avarice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of avarice for Arabic Speakers

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