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See more synonyms for licentious on Thesaurus.com
  1. sexually unrestrained; lascivious; libertine; lewd.
  2. unrestrained by law or general morality; lawless; immoral.
  3. going beyond customary or proper bounds or limits; disregarding rules.
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Origin of licentious

First recorded in 1525–35, licentious is from the Latin word licentiōsus unrestrained. See license, -ous
Related formsli·cen·tious·ly, adverbli·cen·tious·ness, nounnon·li·cen·tious, adjectivenon·li·cen·tious·ly, adverbnon·li·cen·tious·ness, nouno·ver·li·cen·tious, adjectiveo·ver·li·cen·tious·ly, adverbo·ver·li·cen·tious·ness, nounun·li·cen·tious, adjectiveun·li·cen·tious·ly, adverbun·li·cen·tious·ness, noun
Can be confusedlascivious licentious


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2. lawful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for licentious

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Or would you ascertain whether he is licentious by putting your wife or daughter into his hands?



  • Cicero was of low birth, and Metellus was the son of a licentious woman.

  • Query, Is this not encouraging the Inhabitants in their licentious and riotous disposition?

  • I refrained from expressing my abhorrence of that licentious doctrine because of my curiosity.

    A Set of Six

    Joseph Conrad

  • Heretical worship was of a most licentious as well as disgusting kind.

British Dictionary definitions for licentious


  1. sexually unrestrained or promiscuous
  2. rare showing disregard for convention
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Derived Formslicentiously, adverblicentiousness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin licentiōsus capricious, from licentia licence
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

Word Origin and History for licentious


"morally unrestrained," 1530s, from Medieval Latin licentiosus "full of license, unrestrained," from Latin licentia (see license). Related: Licentiously; licentiousness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper