sat·​ur·​na·​lia ˌsa-tər-ˈnāl-yə How to pronounce saturnalia (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
capitalized : the festival of Saturn in ancient Rome beginning on December 17
singular, plural saturnalias also saturnalia
: an unrestrained often licentious celebration : orgy
ˌsa-tər-ˈnāl-yən How to pronounce saturnalia (audio)
saturnalianly adverb

Examples of saturnalia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This summer’s Matterhorn spike is enhanced by COVID cabin fever and protest saturnalia. Nr Editors, National Review, 20 Aug. 2020 Palm Springs is a playground of shape and color, a mid-century marvel of manicured lawns, modernist homes (glass, stone, terrazzo, and Formica), and poolside saturnalia set within an arid ecosystem that can seem like the surface of Mars. Jennifer Emerling, National Geographic, 6 Aug. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'saturnalia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, from neuter plural of saturnalis of Saturn, from Saturnus

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of saturnalia was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near saturnalia

Cite this Entry

“Saturnalia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


noun singular or plural
sat·​ur·​na·​lia ˌsat-ər-ˈnāl-yə How to pronounce saturnalia (audio)
capitalized : the festival of the god Saturn celebrated in ancient Rome with feasting and wild revelry
: a celebration involving wild behavior : orgy
saturnalian adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on saturnalia

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