[ in-duhl-juhns ]
See synonyms for indulgence on
  1. the act or practice of indulging; gratification of desire.

  2. the state of being indulgent.

  1. indulgent allowance or tolerance.

  2. a catering to someone's mood or whim; humoring: The sick man demanded indulgence as his due.

  3. something indulged in: Her favorite indulgence was candy.

  4. Roman Catholic Church. a partial remission of the temporal punishment, especially purgatorial atonement, that is still due for a sin or sins after absolution.: Compare plenary indulgence.

  5. English and Scottish History. (in the reigns of Charles II and James II) a grant by the king to Protestant dissenters and Roman Catholics freeing them from certain penalties imposed, by legislation, because of their religion.

  6. Commerce. an extension, through favor, of time for payment or performance.

verb (used with object),in·dul·genced, in·dul·genc·ing.
  1. Roman Catholic Church. to provide with an indulgence: an indulgenced pilgrimage to Rome.

Origin of indulgence

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English word from Latin word indulgentia.See indulge, -ence

Other words for indulgence

Other words from indulgence

  • non·in·dul·gence, noun
  • pre·in·dul·gence, noun
  • re·in·dul·gence, noun
  • su·per·in·dul·gence, noun

Words Nearby indulgence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use indulgence in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for indulgence


/ (ɪnˈdʌldʒəns) /

  1. the act of indulging or state of being indulgent

  2. a pleasure, habit, etc, indulged in; extravagance: fur coats are an indulgence

  1. liberal or tolerant treatment

  2. something granted as a favour or privilege

  3. RC Church a remission of the temporal punishment for sin after its guilt has been forgiven

  4. commerce an extension of time granted as a favour for payment of a debt or as fulfilment of some other obligation

  5. Also called: Declaration of Indulgence a royal grant during the reigns of Charles II and James II of England giving Nonconformists and Roman Catholics a measure of religious freedom

  1. RC Church to designate as providing indulgence: indulgenced prayers

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

Cultural definitions for indulgence


In the Roman Catholic Church, a declaration by church authorities that those who say certain prayers or do good deeds will have some or all of their punishment in purgatory remitted.

Notes for indulgence

In the Middle Ages, indulgences were frequently sold, and the teaching on indulgences was often distorted. The attack by Martin Luther on the sale of indulgences began the Reformation.

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