he·​do·​nism | \ ˈhē-də-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce hedonism (audio) \

Definition of hedonism

1 : the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life
2 : a way of life based on or suggesting the principles of hedonism she was a perfect specimen of selfish hedonism— Donald Armstrong

The Modern Definition of Hedonism

When hedonism first appeared in English in the middle of the 19th century, it referred to the doctrines of certain schools of philosophy in ancient Greece (such as the Epicureans and Cyrenaics), who held that happiness or pleasure constituted the chief goal in life. As used today, the word frequently carries a judgmental tinge. If someone is described as living a life of hedonism, the implication is that he or she derives happiness from debauchery rather than, say, spending quality time with family or forming meaningful relationships at work. Hedonism comes from the Greek hēdonē (“pleasure”), which also provides the root of the word anhedonia (“a psychological condition characterized by inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable acts”).

Examples of hedonism in a Sentence

their spring break trip to Mexico became an exercise in heedless hedonism
Recent Examples on the Web The Devil: Obligation, hedonism, addictions, patterned thoughts and behaviors that need to be controlled, living in a state of fear, feeling trapped, needing to deal with the parts of your subconscious that are ruling your life negatively. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 19 July 2022 An inauthentic practice is one that just furthers hedonism by merely peddling bliss and relaxation. Gregory Grieve, The Conversation, 19 May 2022 The collective adrenaline rush of the bull run is followed by general hedonism with people drinking, eating, attending concerts and partying late into the night. BostonGlobe.com, 9 July 2022 It’s our right and responsibility to keep hedonism alive. Griselda Flores, Billboard, 8 June 2022 Monaco was soon thriving, and a new age of hedonism at the seashore had begun. Lauren Groff, The Atlantic, 21 June 2022 The hedonism continued in the surrounding park, conceived by Scottish landscape designer Thomas Blaikie in the Anglo-Chinese style popular at the time. Mary Winston Nicklin, Washington Post, 17 June 2022 The twin 112-passenger yachts of the SeaDream Yacht Club have a cult following thanks to their intuitive crew (the service is akin to a private charter’s), exceptional food, and sense of happy hedonism onboard. Sue Bryant, Town & Country, 17 June 2022 The General Manager is empowered to deliver various weekly events touching on wellness, the arts, hedonism, and education—the various facades of our consumer needs. Laura Parker, Forbes, 18 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of hedonism

1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hedonism

Greek hēdonē pleasure; akin to Greek hēdys sweet — more at sweet

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The first known use of hedonism was in 1856

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hedonism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hedonism. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for hedonism


he·​do·​nism | \ ˈhēd-ᵊn-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce hedonism (audio) \

Medical Definition of hedonism

: the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life

Other Words from hedonism

hedonist \ -​ᵊn-​əst How to pronounce hedonism (audio) \ noun
hedonistic \ ˌhēd-​ᵊn-​ˈis-​tik How to pronounce hedonism (audio) \ adjective
hedonistically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce hedonism (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on hedonism

Nglish: Translation of hedonism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hedonism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hedonism


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