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dec·​a·​dent ˈde-kə-dənt How to pronounce decadent (audio)
 also  di-ˈkā-
: characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence
a rich and decadent dessert
the hotel's decadent luxury
: marked by decay or decline
an increasingly decadent society
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


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literature : one of a group of late 19th century French and English writers tending toward artificial and unconventional subjects and subtilized style
: 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.

Examples of decadent in a Sentence

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Then to take it over the top, sprinkle on a brown sugar-walnut streusel and drizzle with chocolate sauce. 13 of 14 Chocolate-Banana Donuts View Recipe Feel good about diving into these decadent chocolate donuts. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Mar. 2024 In the decadent photograph, Crawford throws her head back, her skin incandescent against Gable’s black suit, the dark spangles of her gossamer-like dress catching the light. Angelica Aboulhosn, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Mar. 2024 The effect, enhanced by the stealth-wealth decor, recalls his relaxed yet deceptively decadent suits. Lucy Alexander, Robb Report, 23 Mar. 2024 Meatloaf Surprise Here's an unforgettable April Fool's Day prank for kids: Make meatloaf and mashed potatoes look like a decadent cake! Kimberly Stoney, Parents, 21 Mar. 2024 The praline beignets are decadent and the Rampart Street location offers savory varieties like crab meat beignets and breakfast versions. Maya Kachroo-Levine, Travel + Leisure, 19 Mar. 2024 One Glamour contributor, who is pregnant and turns to these on the reg when sweet cravings strike, praises the soft, cookie-like texture and rich, decadent flavors. Jenny McCoy, Glamour, 15 Mar. 2024 The right hails these dictators as ideological comrades in the war to preserve traditional society, the values of order and patriarchy, against the assault of the decadent left. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, 1 Mar. 2024 Breakfast options, like decadent pulled pork hash and egg tacos, merit a dedicated morning trip. Kayla Stewart, Bon Appétit, 23 Feb. 2024
And now, in perhaps the most decadent of all the croissant creations: Behold the crookie. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Mar. 2024 Last night, at Sabyasachi’s decadent Christopher Street store in Manhattan's West Village, the Indian fashion house celebrated its collaboration with Estée Lauder. Vogue, 13 Mar. 2024 This decadent, triple-layered egg, made by Chocolarder for Selfridges, includes the best of several types of chocolate: dark in the center, then ganache and then milk on the outside. Helen Chandler-Wilde, Fortune Europe, 22 Mar. 2024 Finished with a buttery ganache on top, this decadent treat feature a creamy layer of pistachio flavor in its middle. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 5 Mar. 2024 Moving into the ‘70s, the cool-toned shimmering lips went bronze and brick, and leaned both bohemian and Disco decadent depending on the context. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 20 Feb. 2024 Pickled cranberries, candied pepitas and blue cheese nestle into a decadent smear of butternut squash lined with streaks of hot honey. The Indianapolis Star, 19 Feb. 2024 Get The Recipe 09 of 10 Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake This decadent chocolate cheesecake is topped with a white chocolate snowflake garnish for a festive touch. Mary Shannon Wells, Southern Living, 5 Mar. 2024 The main bedroom, on the other side of the kitchen, is in a different register: decadent and moody. Max Berlinger, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'decadent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

back-formation from decadence

First Known Use


1837, in the meaning defined at sense 2


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

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