debauchery

play
noun de·bauch·ery \di-ˈbȯ-chə-rē, -chrē, -ˈbä-\

Definition of debauchery

plural

debaucheries

  1. 1 :  extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures and especially sexual pleasures :  behavior involving sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. that is often considered immoral … he was glad when others joined them, men and women; and they had more drink and spent the night in wild rioting and debauchery. — Upton Sinclair … Matthew had continued his debaucheries, having chartered a private plane for himself and a bunch of fringe celebrities to go to Corfu for a week of hard-core partying. — Evgenia Peretz

  2. 2 archaic :  seduction from virtue or duty

Examples of debauchery in a Sentence

  1. Like St. Augustine carousing his student days away in fourth-century Carthage, [Thomas] Merton had succumbed to such physical and intellectual debaucheries as New York offered a Columbia undergraduate in the 1930's: wine, women and some Communist fellow-traveling. —Mark Silk, New York Times Book Review, 30 Mar. 1986

  2. … they regard all music and everything pleasant as forms of debauchery, and will not confess to any knowledge or practice unless you can convince them that you are as abandoned a profligate as themselves. —Bernard Shaw, letter, 25 Nov. 1948

  3. I have seen a dozen boys stretched on the grass within a circumference of fifty feet, all of them smoking cigarettes and reading dime novels. It was a scene of inspiring debauchery, even to the most craven spectator. —H. L. Mencken, Happy Days, 1940

  4. He later regretted the debauchery of his youth.

  5. He recalled the evening's debaucheries with regret.

Recent Examples of debauchery from the Web

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

History and Use of debauchery

Some people come to find debauchery through the Bible, in a manner of speaking.

In a number of modern versions the word may be found in Ephesians 5:18, as in The New International Version's translation: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit....” The Greek word that is translated here as debauchery may be interpreted in many different ways: the King James Version uses excess, whereas the American Standard Version uses riot.

Debauchery always involves behavior—especially sexual behavior or behavior involving alcohol or drugs—that some find morally objectionable. In biblical and spiritual contexts, the word debauchery is deadly serious, but in other situations the word often has a playful connotation, as when a group of friends goes out for a "night of debauchery."

Debauchery began to be used in English in the beginning of the 17th century, and is formed from the earlier word debauch. As a verb debauch initially had the meaning of "to lead astray," especially when referring to leading someone away from another person to whom he or she has an allegiance or duty. In its earliest use as a noun debauch was often used to refer to an instance of eating or drinking too much.

Origin and Etymology of debauchery

see 1debauch



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up debauchery? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

an incorrigible rascal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!