obscenity

noun

ob·​scen·​i·​ty äb-ˈse-nə-tē How to pronounce obscenity (audio)
əb-,
 also  -ˈsē-
plural obscenities
1
: the quality or state of being obscene
2
: something (such as an utterance or act) that is obscene

Example Sentences

The author uses obscenity to make a point about the culture. the song couldn't be performed on the air due to the obscenity of the lyrics
Recent Examples on the Web The following year, he was arrested twice in Los Angeles and once in Chicago on claims of obscenity. Sonaiya Kelleystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Dec. 2022 Lawrence’s novel was also banned for obscenity in Canada, Australia, India, and Japan. Laura Zornosa, Time, 2 Dec. 2022 The novel was written 100 years ago and banned for obscenity because the freedom of a woman was not accepted. Tommy Mcardle, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2022 The Florida arrest for performing 2 Live Crew songs in protest of the rap group’s then-recent obscenity arrest. Marc Hirsh, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Oct. 2022 Brash and defiant, Sturman successfully fended off government obscenity prosecutions throughout most of his career. Robert Higgs, cleveland, 19 Oct. 2022 Andrij Melnyk, the outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, responded to Musk's original tweet with an obscenity. CBS News, 14 Oct. 2022 When a group of activists earlier this year demanded that the local school district pull more than 80 books from library shelves, claiming evidence of obscenity on many pages, the move sparked months of discord in this North Texas community. Scott Calvert, WSJ, 30 June 2022 First Amendment jurisprudence allows the prohibition of obscenity, imminent threats, copyright violations, and other longstanding categories of unprotected speech. Will Duffield, National Review, 7 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French obscenité "indecent words or images," borrowed from Latin obscēnitāt-, obscēnitās (obscaenitāt-, obscaenitās) "indecency, indecent language or behavior," from obscēnus, obscaenus "ill-omened, unpropitious, evoking disgust, indecent, lewd" + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at obscene

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obscenity was in 1589

Dictionary Entries Near obscenity

Cite this Entry

“Obscenity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscenity. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

obscenity

noun
ob·​scen·​i·​ty äb-ˈsen-ət-ē How to pronounce obscenity (audio)
əb-
plural obscenities
1
: the quality or state of being obscene
2
: something that is obscene

Legal Definition

obscenity

noun
ob·​scen·​i·​ty äb-ˈse-nə-tē How to pronounce obscenity (audio)
plural obscenities
1
: the quality or state of being obscene
2
: something (as an utterance or act) that is obscene
also : obscene material

More from Merriam-Webster on obscenity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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