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

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 If your prediction is correct, reward yourself with some small indulgence. Dan Ariely, WSJ, "When It’s Time to Cancel a Credit Card," 16 Jan. 2020 At the end of a long day of skiing, while some click out of their bindings and head straight for a beer or three at the bar and a fireplace to warm up, others might head for a different, chillier kind of après-ski indulgence: cryotherapy. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, "Instead of Hot Tubs, Skiers Are Turning to Cryotherapy for Après-Ski Fun," 15 Jan. 2020 The popcorn and white sturgeon caviar combo ($20) is a seductive indulgence. Tara Duggan,, "Where to dine while shopping in Union Square," 7 Dec. 2019 Boxing Day has evolved into a day of relaxation and indulgence — and shopping. Washington Post, "AP Explains: What is Boxing Day?," 26 Dec. 2019 Saving these dreams from demolition seems like a pretty (and pretty expensive) civic indulgence to those who embrace the streaming era. Michael Phillips,, "Love classic, beautiful movie theaters like the Music Box? A documentary about them is playing this week — at the Music Box," 11 Nov. 2019 An extra-special indulgence at this restored rustic beauty is the winemaker’s dinner series featuring Oregon wines, a six-course gourmet meal and unforgettable snowmobile transportation between the lodge and hut. Gerry Frank, oregonlive, "Head to Mount Hood any time of year: Gerry Frank’s picks," 15 Sep. 2019 Red wine has long been touted as a healthy indulgence that’s good for the ticker. Amy Osmond Cook, The Mercury News, "Move over red wine: White wine is good for heart health and weight loss," 13 Sep. 2019 The basket is also filled with indulgences such as Lindt chocolates, Dolcetto wafers, and other sinful treats. Alicia Cypress, USA TODAY, "15 awesome gift ideas for people who love wine," 9 Dec. 2019

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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Statistics for indulgence

Last Updated

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Indulgence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for indulgence


How to pronounce indulgence (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of indulgence

: the behavior or attitude of people who allow themselves to do what they want or who allow other people to do what they want
: the act of doing something that you enjoy but that is usually thought of as wrong or unhealthy
: something that is done or enjoyed as a special pleasure


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.

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