- (sometimes used with a plural verb) the festival of Saturn, celebrated in December in ancient Rome as a time of unrestrained merrymaking.
- (lowercase) unrestrained revelry; orgy.
Origin of Saturnalia
Examples from the Web for saturnalian
The solitary example of a Saturnalian victim in Msia did not fulfil these conditions.
The Saturnalian spirit has not been extinct even in our days.Curiosities of Literature, Vol. II (of 3)
It was found necessary to suggest that originally the Saturnalian victim died in February-March, but this was not proved.
On holidays and fair-days these Saturnalian proceedings grew more outrageous than ever.A History of Police in England
W. L. Melville Lee
However, this Saturnalian court has done our business; and a glorious batch of claret we had afterwards at Walker's.Guy Mannering, or The Astrologer, Complete, Illustrated
Sir Walter Scott
- an ancient Roman festival celebrated in December: renowned for its general merrymaking
- (sometimes not capital) a period or occasion of wild revelry
Word Origin and History for saturnalian
time of merrymaking, 1590s, from Latin Saturnalia, ancient Roman festivals of Saturn (held in December), a time of merrymaking for all, from neuter plural of adjective Saturnalis "pertaining to Saturn," from Saturnus (see Saturn). They correspond to the Greek Kronia. The extended sense of "period of unrestrained revelry" is first attested 1782. Related: Saturnalian.