in·​dul·​gence | \ in-ˈdəl-jən(t)s How to pronounce indulgence (audio) \

Essential Meaning of indulgence

1 : the behavior or attitude of people who allow themselves to do what they want or who allow other people to do what they want She lived a life of selfish indulgence. They treated the sick boy with indulgence. = They showed great indulgence toward the sick boy. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask your indulgence [=patience] for a moment while my assistant prepares the next act.
2 : the act of doing something that you enjoy but that is usually thought of as wrong or unhealthy his indulgence in forbidden pleasures
3 : something that is done or enjoyed as a special pleasure She found that she couldn't afford the indulgences she had once enjoyed. For our anniversary we allowed ourselves the indulgence of an elegant dinner at our favorite restaurant. Good food is my only indulgence.

Full Definition of indulgence

1a : the act of indulging in something especially : self-indulgence
b : something indulged in walk off gastronomic indulgences— Barbara L. Michaels
2a : an indulgent act
b : an extension of time for payment or performance granted as a favor
3 : the act of indulging : the state of being indulgent
4 : remission of part or all of the temporal and especially purgatorial punishment that according to Roman Catholicism is due for sins whose eternal punishment has been remitted and whose guilt has been pardoned (as through the sacrament of reconciliation)

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Examples of indulgence in a Sentence

She lived a life of selfish indulgence. his indulgence in forbidden pleasures She found that she couldn't afford the indulgences she had once enjoyed. For our anniversary we allowed ourselves the indulgence of an elegant dinner at our favorite restaurant. Good food is my only indulgence.
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Recent Examples on the Web The spaces project order and calm, and rely on a visual vocabulary of affluence, indulgence, and restraint. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, 6 May 2021 Blessed by Dionysus himself, wine has been an essential part of human celebration, indulgence, and cuisine for eons. Love Akinkunle, Travel + Leisure, 24 Apr. 2021 Bridgerton was made to look, and taste like, an intricate pastry: an unabashed indulgence, coated in several layers of pastel coating and floral motifs. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, 2 Mar. 2021 The pantry has also provided an unexpected indulgence — pistachios, her favorite snack. Caroline Spivack, Curbed, 3 Feb. 2021 Replacing worn carpets with new hardwood floors is a common indulgence that Smith sees clients make. Jessica Dailey, House Beautiful, 15 Sep. 2021 Kornnawong also adds her own spin to the dessert with the additions of cornflakes (a favorite American cereal indulgence of hers), small pieces of milk bread and salted coconut cream. Omar Mamoon, Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Sep. 2021 This might seem like a frou-frou indulgence of brands looking to score points with earth-conscious consumers. Brian Barth, The New Republic, 7 Sep. 2021 To recapture that novel feeling, try taking a week off from a frequent indulgence. Helen Bond, Dallas News, 1 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indulgence.' 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 indulgence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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Time Traveler for indulgence

Time Traveler

The first known use of indulgence was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near indulgence

indulge in



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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Indulgence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for indulgence


in·​dul·​gence | \ in-ˈdəl-jəns How to pronounce indulgence (audio) \

Kids Definition of indulgence

1 : the practice of allowing enjoyment of whatever is desired He lives a life of indulgence.
2 : an act of doing what is desired She regretted her indulgence in new clothes.
3 : something that a person enjoys or desires Chocolate is an indulgence.

More from Merriam-Webster on indulgence

Nglish: Translation of indulgence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of indulgence for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about indulgence


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