sump·​tu·​ary ˈsəm(p)-chə-ˌwer-ē How to pronounce sumptuary (audio)
: relating to personal expenditures and especially to prevent extravagance and luxury
conservative sumptuary tastesJohn Cheever
: designed to regulate extravagant expenditures or habits especially on moral or religious grounds
sumptuary laws
sumptuary tax

Examples of sumptuary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Daston relates in comic detail how sumptuary rules in France failed to be followed time and again. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 6 July 2022 To protect the social order, sumptuary laws were passed that discouraged commoners from dressing above their class. Nick Haramis, New York Times, 6 Sep. 2023 In 1326 the women of Florence petitioned the Duchess of Calabria to ask her husband the duke to relax legislation preventing them from wearing false hair, part of a package of sumptuary laws that ordered people to wear clothing, accessories, and hairstyles suitable to their social positions. Mary Wellesley, The New York Review of Books, 5 Oct. 2022 English parliaments had a habit of passing sumptuary laws on luxury clothing under one monarch and repealing them under another, Blackstone went on to explain. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 8 July 2022 But, even when issued repeatedly, with more and more admonitory language, the sumptuary laws were routinely violated, year after year. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 6 July 2022 Strict sumptuary laws dictated what colors and styles of clothing people of different classes could wear. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Nov. 2021 Despite their rising status in the merchant class of Bruges, the Arnolfinis simply could not possess certain luxuries due to sumptuary laws, codifying details as small as squirrel bellies. Dan Neil, WSJ, 8 July 2021 Discourse surrounding poulaines reached such heights that in 1463, England’s Edward IV passed sumptuary laws in London that limited toe length to a mere two inches, per Atlas Obscura. Nora McGreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 June 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sumptuary.' 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 sumptuarius, from sumptus expense, from sumere to take, spend — more at consume

First Known Use

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sumptuary was in 1600

Dictionary Entries Near sumptuary

Cite this Entry

“Sumptuary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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