Definition of hedonism
- she was a perfect specimen of selfish hedonism
- —Donald Armstrong
their spring break trip to Mexico became an exercise in heedless hedonism
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.
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”).
: the belief that pleasure or happiness is the most important goal in life
What made you want to look up hedonism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ