voyeur

noun
voy·​eur | \vwä-ˈyər, vȯi-ˈər \

Definition of voyeur 

1 : 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

2 : a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous

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Other Words from voyeur

voyeurism \vwä-​ˈyər-​ˌi-​zəm, vȯi-​ˈər-​ \ noun
voyeuristic \ˌvwä-​(ˌ)yər-​ˈi-​stik, ˌvȯi-​ər-​ \ adjective
voyeuristically \ˌvwä-​(ˌ)yər-​ˈi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē, ˌvȯi-​ər-​ \ adverb

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

Wrestlers told Politico that coaches, like Jordan, often had to kick voyeurs out of the sauna and practice areas. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Jim Jordan’s allies are questioning the premise of the Ohio State sexual abuse allegations," 13 July 2018 The Post's Elise Viebeck reports that the then-athletic director at Ohio State actually moved the wrestlers out of the community showers to avoid voyeurs. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "Just how much trouble is Jim Jordan in over alleged Ohio State sexual abuse?," 9 July 2018 Some former athletes recall him differently: Locker-room voyeur. Kantele Franko, Adnrew Welsh-huggins, John Seewer, Cincinnati.com, "Ex-athletes say Ohio State doc groped, ogled men for years," 6 July 2018 The chef is shown constantly tasting in segments that will send a frisson of delight to foodie-voyeurs. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "Documentary Follows Alain Ducasse on a Quest for Perfection," 4 June 2018 Researchers found that the voyeurs had no effect on the monkeys' stress levels, though perhaps, the sight of red-faced monkeys bathing in the snow has some stress-lowering effects for us. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Snow Monkeys Love Hot Baths the Same Reasons Humans Do," 8 Apr. 2018 Instead, approximately 100 theatergoers will sit onstage at each performance, surrounding the actors like voyeurs as the performers tell a story that is likely to resonate powerfully in multicultural South Florida. Christine Dolen, miamiherald, "'Queen of Basel' and the next evolution of compassion, empathy and forgiveness | Miami Herald," 11 Apr. 2018 So a neatly pulled out joke or clap back from another celeb was a delightful gift for the voyeur in me. refinery29.com, "Celebs Commenting On Each Other's Instagram Is The Only Pure Thing Left On Social Media," 12 Mar. 2018 The sight of the crippled Concordia had exerted a strange pull on the public, drawing numerous gawkers to the island of Giglio, though locals and non-voyeurs will be just as happy to bid the ship bon voyage. Barbara Peterson, Popular Mechanics, "Here's How the Costa Concordia is Emerging from the Sea," 14 July 2014

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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Statistics for voyeur

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for voyeur

The first known use of voyeur was in 1900

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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, vȯi-ˈər \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on voyeur

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with voyeur

Spanish Central: Translation of voyeur

Britannica English: Translation of voyeur for Arabic Speakers

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