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[uh b-sen-i-tee, -see-ni-] /əbˈsɛn ɪ ti, -ˈsi nɪ-/
noun, plural obscenities for 2, 3.
the character or quality of being obscene; indecency; lewdness.
something obscene, as a picture or story.
an obscene word or expression, especially when used as an invective.
Origin of obscenity
1600-10; < French obscenité < Latin obscēnitās, equivalent to obscēn(us) obscene + -itās -ity
Related forms
antiobscenity, noun, plural antiobscenities, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for obscenities
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Profanities, obscenities, er—swear-words," suggested Challis.

    The Wonder J. D. Beresford
  • I leave untouched the gross obscenities and immoral decisions.

  • We let obscene writers write about the obscenities of this ordinary man.

    A Chesterton Calendar G. K. Chesterton
  • And Chet knew that the obscenities were intended for his companions and himself.

    Brood of the Dark Moon Charles Willard Diffin
  • When at last he found his tongue a flood of obscenities flowed.

    Port O' Gold

    Louis John Stellman
  • And with a roar he burst into imprecations, blasphemies and obscenities.

    The Devil's Garden

    W. B. Maxwell
  • Why he quoted them I do not know—they have no more to do with his obscenities than I have.

    The Divine Fire

    May Sinclair
  • Bad as is this scene, it is pure compared with some described by Burchard, another journalist of the Vatican obscenities.

  • He could still descend to obscenities when his "manliness" had to be proved, but vulgarity repelled him irresistibly.

    The Soul of a Child Edwin Bjorkman
British Dictionary definitions for obscenities


noun (pl) -ties
the state or quality of being obscene
an obscene act, statement, word, etc
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 obscenities



1580s, "obscene quality," from French obscénité, from Latin obscenitatem (nominative obscenitas) "inauspiciousness, filthiness," from obscenus "offensive" (see obscene). Meaning "a foul or loathsome act" is 1610s. Sense of "an obscene utterance or word" is attested by 1690. Related: Obscenities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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obscenities in Culture

obscenity definition

Behavior, appearance, or expression (such as films and books) that violate accepted standards of sexual morality. American courts have long tried to define obscenity but without much success. Some believe, for example, that any depiction of nudity is obscene; others would argue that nudity in itself is not obscene. (See four-letter words and pornography.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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