Definition of licentious
1 : lacking legal or moral restraints; especially : disregarding sexual restraints licentious behavior licentious revelers
2 : marked by disregard for strict rules of correctness
Examples of licentious in a Sentence
a moralist who decried what she regarded as the licentious and corrupt culture of the entertainment industry
Recent Examples of licentious from the Web
CPAC never should have invited him to give a major speech, because his ‘provocativeness’ is often bigoted or licentious.
Democracy has unleashed a Philippine press so varied and licentious as to make even Americans feel nervous—or rather, to recall standing in grocery check-out lines looking at Midnight and Star.
Hillary is in an awkward spot on the subject of licentious behavior by men.
The project concerns Thomas’ contentious confirmation to the high court, during which Hill’s testimony alleging licentious behavior prior to his nomination.
Because the disease is associated with sex, its victims are typically regarded as sinful, licentious, undisciplined--and unworthy of sympathy.
Seneca and Hannibal went out as beautiful, swan-dive suicides; even the comical, licentious Nero fell gloriously on his own sword.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'licentious'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The Shared Roots of license and licentious
License and licentious come ultimately from the same word in Latin, licentia, whose meanings ranged from "freedom to act" to "unruly behavior, wantonness." The Latin noun was itself derived from the verb licere "to be permitted." Though we are likely to associate license with the card that grants freedom or permission to operate a motor vehicle and licentious with sexual wantonness, in actuality, there is considerable semantic overlap between the two words. Poetic license refers to deviation from a (usually) literary norm for some purposeful effect. A person who takes license with something (or someone) engages in "abusive disregard for rules of personal conduct." Hence, the semantic range of license in English mirrors that of its Latin antecedent, suggesting either permission or transgression, depending upon the context. Licentious, on the other hand, always implies excessive, transgressive freedom, as is true of its immediate Latin source, licentiosus "unrestrained, wanton" (literally, "full of freedom").
Origin and Etymology of licentious
Latin licentiosus, from licentia
First Known Use: 1535
LICENTIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of licentious for English Language Learners
: sexually immoral or offensive
Legal Definition of licentious
: disregarding legal restraints especially with regard to sexual relations arrested as a prostitute for licentious sexual intercourse
Seen and Heard
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