voyeur

noun voy·eur \ vwä-ˈyər , vȯi-ˈər \
Updated on: 25 Oct 2017

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

voyeurism

play \vwä-ˈyər-ˌi-zəm, vȯi-ˈər-\ noun

voyeuristic

play \ˌvwä-(ˌ)yər-ˈi-stik, ˌvȯi-ər-\ adjective

voyeuristically

play \ˌvwä-(ˌ)yər-ˈi-sti-k(ə-)lē, ˌvȯi-ər-\ adverb

Recent Examples of voyeur from the Web

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.

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

Origin and Etymology of voyeur

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


VOYEUR Defined for English Language Learners

voyeur

noun

Definition of voyeur for English Language Learners

  • : 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


Medical Dictionary

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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