promiscuous

adjective
pro·mis·cu·ous | \prə-ˈmi-skyə-wəs \

Definition of promiscuous 

1 : having or involving many sexual partners : not restricted to one sexual partner or few sexual partners

2 : not restricted to one class, sort, or person : indiscriminate education … cheapened through the promiscuous distribution of diplomas— Norman Cousins

3 : casual, irregular promiscuous eating habits

4 : composed of all sorts of persons or things

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Other Words from promiscuous

promiscuously adverb
promiscuousness noun

The Multiple Meanings of Promiscuous

Promiscuous (from Latin promiscuus “without distinction, taken from every different type”) has a range of meanings in English. The oldest of these is “composed of all sorts of persons and things” (as in “a promiscuous array of books” or “the promiscuous company at the tavern”). This meaning suggests a random assortment, not necessarily with negative implications.

Within the last few hundred years, promiscuous has added the usually negatively-tinged meanings “indiscriminate” (“promiscuous destruction by bombing”), “casual or careless” (“the president’s promiscuous dishonesty”), and of course, “not restricted to one sexual partner.”

Does this mean that the word itself is promiscuous? Not at all. It is not uncommon for English words to display this polysemous (“having multiple meanings”) character, and promiscuous is actually on the tidy end of the spectrum, as far as these things go. Some English words have dozens of meanings.

Examples of promiscuous in a Sentence

a promiscuous selection of poems since I just collect stamps that I happen to like, my collection is pretty promiscuous

Recent Examples on the Web

Considering the authors’ lifestyles, the books read as less judgmental of their promiscuous female characters. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018 The descriptive text is quite graphic, mentioning fetish acts and featuring rambling stories that paint women as promiscuous. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Walmart Was Once Again Forced to Pull an Offensive Shirt From Its Website," 12 July 2018 To understand Dawson’s work it’s helpful to check out the scope of her promiscuous collaborations. John Adamian, courant.com, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018 The very big difference there is that Clive and Maurice never even kissed and never did anything whereas Thorpe was incredibly promiscuous, which was weird. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "Hugh Grant talks about his 'Very English' return to TV, political scandals and marriage," 28 June 2018 If the three x’s didn’t give it away, this song is quite promiscuous, Gaga inviting a girl over to play out her nastiest fantasies while her boyfriend is out of town. Henry Youtt, Billboard, "10 Lady Gaga Songs to Celebrate Pride Month: Listen," 15 June 2018 The pretty, promiscuous girl is the first victim in slasher movies. Sascha Cohen, SELF, "I Felt Like I Deserved My Breast Cancer," 17 May 2018 In Cosby’s first trial, his defense attorneys implied that Andrea Constand had been in a romantic relationship with Cosby and cast the other accuser who testified as promiscuous and media-hungry. Anna North, Vox, "Bill Cosby lost. #MeToo won.," 26 Apr. 2018 The Home Office was unable to say how many of the 5,525 people rejected for their character in 2016 were turned down for being persistently and notoriously promiscuous. The Economist, "Promiscuous? Divorced? Eccentric-looking? You may be denied a passport," 3 May 2018

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

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for promiscuous

Latin promiscuus, from pro- forth + miscēre to mix — more at pro-, mix

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for promiscuous

The first known use of promiscuous was in 1570

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More Definitions for promiscuous

promiscuous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of promiscuous

: having or involving many sexual partners

: including or involving too many people or things : not limited in a careful or proper way

promiscuous

adjective
pro·mis·cu·ous | \prə-ˈmis-kyə-wəs \

Medical Definition of promiscuous 

: not restricted to one sexual partner

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