pru·​ri·​ent | \ˈpru̇r-ē-ənt \

Definition of prurient 

: marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire

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Other Words from prurient

pruriently adverb

Examples of prurient in a Sentence

He took a prurient interest in her personal life. a book that appealed to the prurient curiosity of its readers

Recent Examples on the Web

Oldale was charged with one count of conducting visual surveillance, with prurient intent, of another person in a private place without consent. Donna St. George, Washington Post, "Federal prosecutors say Maryland dad secretly filmed children in his bathroom," 13 Apr. 2018 As for the prurient line or two about Sonia, Orwell’s second wife, doing nude modeling for the painters of the Euston Road school, this is categorically denied by her biographer. D.j. Taylor, WSJ, "Review: ‘The Last Man in Europe’ and George Orwell’s Rough Road to ‘1984’," 15 Dec. 2017 One of the stranger myths surrounding this issue is the mistaken belief that current law allows men to simply dress as women and thereby gain access to women's facilities for ostensibly predatory or prurient reasons. Bill Evans, Alaska Dispatch News, "Prop 1 is solution in search of problem; vote no," 12 Sep. 2017 To me, that speculation always seemed prurient Jacob Bacharach, New Republic, "Joan Didion Is the Best Thing About Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold," 27 Oct. 2017 The Snowman Boring and incoherent, this is a slow, dull, prurient film about a serial killer, going around severing the heads of female victims. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Movie review capsules, Oct. 29," 25 Oct. 2017 Time has passed since Moises Alou’s overreaction and Alex S. Gonzalez’s error and Bartman’s instinct but the prurient interest remains. David Haugh,, "Closure a myth until we see and hear from Steve Bartman," 1 Aug. 2017 The assumption at first is that the girls’ captor has prurient interests in mind. Michael O'sullivan, The Denver Post, "“Split” decision: James McAvoy is great; twist ending is ludicrous," 20 Jan. 2017 Every time a plot feels corny or prurient or preachy, there’s an acknowledgment in the dialogue. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "Archie’s and Veronica’s Misconceived Return to “Riverdale”," 23 Mar. 2017

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

1592, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prurient

Latin prurient-, pruriens, present participle of prurire to itch, crave; akin to Latin pruna glowing coal, Sanskrit ploṣati he singes, and probably to Latin pruina hoarfrost — more at freeze

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The first known use of prurient was in 1592

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English Language Learners Definition of prurient

: having or showing too much interest in sex


pru·​ri·​ent | \ˈpru̇r-ē-ənt \

Legal Definition of prurient 

: marked by or arousing an unwholesome sexual interest or desire

Other Words from prurient

pruriently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on prurient

Spanish Central: Translation of prurient

Nglish: Translation of prurient for Spanish Speakers

Comments on prurient

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


noxious or harmful

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