debauchery

noun
de·​bauch·​ery | \ di-ˈbȯ-chə-rē How to pronounce debauchery (audio) , -chrē, -ˈbä-\
plural debaucheries

Definition of debauchery

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 archaic : seduction from virtue or duty

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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.

Examples of debauchery in a Sentence

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 … 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 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 He later regretted the debauchery of his youth. He recalled the evening's debaucheries with regret.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Which is why their team has decided to offer an antidote—or, depending on your preferences, an alternative—to all that legendary debauchery with the opening of a standalone wellness venue. Christina Pérez, Vogue, "This Summer, The Surf Lodge Chills Out With a New Wellness Venue," 21 May 2019 Tales of backstage debauchery are a reader’s reward for slogging through endless reminiscences about a singer’s childhood pets or their parents’ divorce. Allison Stewart, Washington Post, "Rock-musician memoirs have a distancing effect, but Ben Folds is as relatable as ever," 31 July 2019 But, also, the feeling of total debauchery is still there with stuff like superhuman orgies and dolphin erotica. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Amazon's The Boys season 2 gets the official blood-stained thumbs-up," 19 July 2019 Almena told jurors under direct examination that there was rarely debauchery at the warehouse. Megan Cassidy, SFChronicle.com, "Ghost Ship trial: Almena spars with prosecutors on witness stand," 10 July 2019 They were granted five days of drunken debauchery followed by an essay prompt, a twelve-book reading list, and a set of deadlines. Sahil Handa, National Review, "Reclaiming Britishness from the Brexit Debacle," 10 June 2019 The cold humor, which is lechery, which is seething debauchery, which is abomination itself. Amos Oz, Harper's magazine, "Setting the World to Rights," 10 Apr. 2019 The result: an inky, lived-in black liner look that only hints at the debauchery from the night before. Karina Hoshikawa, Allure, "Exclusive: Thomas de Kluyver Talks Relaunch of Gucci Beauty, New Role as Global Makeup Artist," 5 May 2019 What transpires is a night of adolescent debauchery straight out of Superbad. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Olivia Wilde’s New Movie Looks Like the Female Superbad—and People Are Thrilled," 11 Mar. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of debauchery

1642, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for debauchery

see debauch entry 1

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Statistics for debauchery

Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for debauchery

The first known use of debauchery was in 1642

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