voyeur

noun
voy·​eur | \ vwä-ˈyər How to pronounce voyeur (audio) , vȯi-ˈər How to pronounce voyeur (audio) \
plural voyeurs

Definition of voyeur

1a : someone who obtains sexual gratification from observing unsuspecting individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts broadly : someone who habitually seeks sexual stimulation by visual means
b : a person who commits the crime of voyeurism
2 : a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous

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What is a voyeur?

Voyeur is a fairly recent addition to English; our earliest written evidence for the word dates from the beginning of the 20th century. It comes directly from a French noun meaning, literally, “one who sees.”

Initially, voyeur referred to someone who derived sexual pleasure from watching others undress or engage in intimate acts; it was synonymous with Peeping Tom. By the middle of the 20th century, its meaning had broadened to "an unduly prying observer," particularly one interested in squalid or shocking details:

[A] good biographer is always in some sense a voyeur.–Times Literary Supplement, November 5, 1971

Is a press that pries into a presidential aspirant’s personal habits pandering to voyeurs or enlightening rightfully curious voters? –Saturday Review, February 16, 1980

Examples of voyeur in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In encountering them, Fraleigh hopes that the viewer feels not like a voyeur, but instead, like an intruder. Brienne Walsh, Forbes, "In New Paintings, Angela Fraleigh Wakes Women Up From Their Long Slumber," 1 Mar. 2021 Like her fellow voyeur across the Channel, Bellucci believes that her followers are attracted to the original, authentic everyday style. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "Thanks To These Instagram Accounts, Street Style Isn’t Dead. It’s Better.," 13 Feb. 2021 While watching them over, Jughead finds a new kind of tape by the voyeur, as the people of Riverdale are now calling the maker of these videos. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Prep For the "Riverdale" Season 5 Premiere With This Reminder of What Went Down in Season 4," 20 Jan. 2021 But the season wasn't able to wrap up its big mystery around the town voyeur sending everyone super creepy videotapes. Samantha Highfill, EW.com, "Veronica finds out about Betty and Archie in the first Riverdale season 5 trailer," 9 Dec. 2020 Oh, and the Seven are down a member after the Boys took out Translucent (Alex Hassell), a perverted voyeur who could turn himself invisible by changing his skin into a carbon meta-material that warped light around him. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Don’t call it a comeback—The Boys returns better than ever in S2," 17 Oct. 2020 Paintings often put you in the position of a voyeur, but here, that’s emphatically reversed. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "A painting that dares to stare back at you," 16 Sep. 2020 But hours before Falwell resigned, Reuters reported that Falwell knew of his wife’s affair and participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur. Author: Sarah Rankin And Elana Schor, Anchorage Daily News, "Official says Falwell leaving Liberty; Falwell says he’s not," 24 Aug. 2020 But hours before Falwell resigned, Reuters reported that Falwell knew of his wife’s affair and participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Liberty University official says Jerry Falwell Jr. is leaving the university, but Falwell says he’s not," 24 Aug. 2020

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

1900, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for voyeur

French, literally, one who sees, from Middle French, from voir to see, from Latin vidēre — more at wit

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Cite this Entry

“Voyeur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voyeur. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for voyeur

voyeur

noun

English Language Learners Definition of voyeur

: a person who gets sexual pleasure from secretly watching other people have sex
: a person who likes seeing and talking or writing about something that is considered to be private

voyeur

noun
voy·​eur | \ vwä-ˈyər How to pronounce voyeur (audio) , vȯi-ˈər How to pronounce voyeur (audio) \

Medical Definition of voyeur

: one obtaining sexual gratification from observing unsuspecting individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts broadly : one who habitually seeks sexual stimulation by visual means

More from Merriam-Webster on voyeur

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for voyeur

Britannica English: Translation of voyeur for Arabic Speakers

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