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

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 Soon, the Long Island Sound broadened, and the plane veered away from the shoreline, offering little for a real-estate voyeur to ogle. Ben Mcgrath, The New Yorker, 25 July 2022 Philyaw is a voyeur of a kind, training her gaze on the furtive activities of Black women. The New Yorker, 4 July 2022 Some of the women described the voyeur as a white man, 25 to 35, wearing a black jacket. Longreads, 5 May 2022 The voyeur in me likes bedrooms in historic houses. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 10 Mar. 2022 Others take on a more disturbing note: a couple with a body replacement printer in their basement, who develop a habit of offing each other and reprinting their bodies; an Instagram voyeur sneaking into the funeral of a young mountain climber. Wired Staff, Wired, 26 Nov. 2021 The quietness outside, the ability to be a voyeur, how funny and shameless and alive the city is, and will probably always be, even without you in it. Brienne Walsh, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 Footage has been shared widely online, uploaded to streaming sites and shared on voyeur forums. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 12 Aug. 2021 In encountering them, Fraleigh hopes that the viewer feels not like a voyeur, but instead, like an intruder. Brienne Walsh, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About voyeur

Dictionary Entries Near voyeur

Voyageurs National Park

voyeur

voyeurism

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Statistics for voyeur

Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Voyeur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voyeur. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for voyeur

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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