[ naw-tee ]
/ ˈnɔ ti /
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See synonyms for: naughty / naughtily / naughtiness on Thesaurus.com

adjective, naugh·ti·er, naugh·ti·est.
disobedient; mischievous (used especially in speaking to or about children): Weren't we naughty not to eat our spinach?
improper, tasteless, indecorous, or indecent: a naughty word.
Obsolete. wicked; evil.


1 willful, wayward, misbehaving.
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Origin of naughty

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at naught, -y1


naugh·ti·ly, adverbnaugh·ti·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does naughty mean?

Naughty means disobedient, mischievous, or generally misbehaving, particularly when applied to children.

Naughty is usually used in reference to misbehavior that’s minor or mischievous, as opposed to more serious disobedience. In this way, it’s also sometimes applied to pets.

Example: If you kids start to get naughty before bedtime, I’m going to take away your TV privileges. 

In a much different context, naughty is used to describe things that are sexually suggestive, as in naughty jokes, or things that pertain to sex, often in a way that’s hidden, forbidden, or secret. In this way, it is often used playfully or as a euphemism (a milder substitute of what is being referred to).

Example: Oh my God, have you two been doing naughty stuff in the supply shed?

Where does naughty come from?

The first records of the word naughty come from around the 1400s. It comes from the word naught, meaning “nothing.” Naught comes from Middle English word nāwiht, from the parts nā, meaning “no,” and wiht, meaning “thing” or “person.” The earliest recorded uses of naughty refer to having nothing—being poor. It then took on senses meaning “evil” or “immoral.” In the 1500s, it took on its sexual meaning—at first more literal and later more ironic or euphemistic. It wasn’t until the 1600s or after that it was popularly used to describe misbehaving children.

Children called naughty are often those who don’t listen to a thing you say and don’t do anything you tell them to do. But the word implies that such behavior isn’t all that serious, and perhaps could even be considered cute (depending on who has to clean up the mess made by the naughty children). Pets who misbehave in this way can also be called naughty, as in Mr. Fluffles, you naughty kitty, why must you knock all my things off the shelf? The word can also be applied to adults in a humorous or ironic way, such as to describe someone cheating on their diet or sneaking food into a movie theater.

When naughty is used in a sexual way, it’s usually meant to be a bit cheeky or playful, often likening sexual activity to behavior that breaks the rules somehow. It’s commonly applied to things that are sexually suggestive or sexually explicit, as in You just watch that movie for the naughty parts. In this sense, a close synonym of the word is dirty. But it can also be used as a playful euphemism to refer to sexual activity, as in Your honeymoon is supposed to be spent being naughty!

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What are some other forms of naughty?

  • naughtier (comparative adjective)
  • naughtiest (superlative adjective)
  • naughtily (adverb)
  • naughtiness (noun)

What are some synonyms for naughty?

What are some words that share a root or word element with naughty



What are some words that often get used in discussing naughty?


How is naughty used in real life?

The word naughty is used in modern conversation to refer to misbehaving children and pets. It is often used with a less serious and more playful tone.



Try using naughty!

Which of the following terms would NOT be used to describe a child considered naughty?

A. mischievous
B. out of control
C. obedient
D. misbehaving

How to use naughty in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for naughty

/ (ˈnɔːtɪ) /

adjective -tier or -tiest
(esp of children or their behaviour) mischievous or disobedient; bad
mildly indecent; titillating
noun plural -ties
Australian and NZ slang an act of sexual intercourse

Derived forms of naughty

naughtily, adverbnaughtiness, noun

Word Origin for naughty

C14 (originally: needy, of poor quality): from naught
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