promiscuous

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

Definition of promiscuous

1 :composed of all sorts of persons or things
2 :not restricted to one class, sort, or person :indiscriminate
  • education … cheapened through the promiscuous distribution of diplomas
  • —Norman Cousins
3 :not restricted to one sexual partner
4 :casual, irregular
  • promiscuous eating habits

promiscuously

adverb

promiscuousness

noun

Examples of promiscuous in a Sentence

  1. a promiscuous selection of poems

  2. since I just collect stamps that I happen to like, my collection is pretty promiscuous

Recent Examples of promiscuous from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of promiscuous

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


PROMISCUOUS Defined for English Language Learners

promiscuous

adjective

Definition of promiscuous for English Language Learners

  • : having or involving many sexual partners

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


Medical Dictionary

promiscuous

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

medical Definition of promiscuous

:not restricted to one sexual partner


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up promiscuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

spoken rather than written

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!