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[fes-uh-nahyn, -nin] /ˈfɛs əˌnaɪn, -nɪn/
scurrilous; licentious; obscene:
fescennine mockery.
Origin of fescennine
1595-1605; < Latin Fescennīnus of, belonging to Fescennia, a town in Etruria noted for jesting and scurrilous verse; see -ine1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fescennine
Historical Examples
  • A fescennine temperament is too often allied with religiosity.

    Masques & Phases Robert Ross
  • The principal constituent element in this fescennine poetry was obscene mockery.

  • But just as it takes two to make a quarrel, so the obscene mockery of the fescennine verses required two principals.

  • fescennine verses of the Romans, which were used at weddings and triumphs, were intended to ward off ill luck.


    William Graham Sumner
  • The original fescennine verse appears, from the testimony of Horace, to have been in metrical dialogue.

    The Roman Poets of the Republic William Young Sellar
  • The fescennine raillery long retained traces of this original character.

    The Roman Poets of the Republic William Young Sellar
  • Bridal songs with fescennine licence resounded in the theatres, market-places, courts, and gymnasia.

    The Formation of Christendom, Volume VI

    Thomas W. (Thomas William) Allies
  • The ancient Atellan farces were as full of obscenity as were the fescennine songs of broad allusions.

    Roman Women

    Alfred Brittain
  • It is a charm against fascinum, 'the evil eye': and hence the name fescennine.

British Dictionary definitions for fescennine


(rare) scurrilous or obscene
Word Origin
C17: from Latin Fescennīnus of Fescennia, a city in Etruria noted for the production of mocking or obscene verse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fescennine



"vulgar, obscene, scurrilous," from Latin Fescenninus (versus), a rude form of dramatic or satiric verse, from Fescennia, city in Etruria, noted for such productions.

The Fescennine Songs were the origin of the Satire, the only important species of literature not derived from the Greeks, and altogether peculiar to Italy. These Fescennine Songs were rude dialogues, in which the country people assailed and ridiculed one another in extempore verses, and which were introduced as an amusement in various festivals. [William Smith, "A Smaller History of Rome," London, 1870]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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