[uh b-seen]


offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved: obscene language.
causing uncontrolled sexual desire.
abominable; disgusting; repulsive.

Origin of obscene

First recorded in 1585–95, obscene is from the Latin word obscēnus, obscaenus
Related formsob·scene·ly, adverbob·scene·ness, nounun·ob·scene, adjectiveun·ob·scene·ly, adverbun·ob·scene·ness, noun
Can be confusedlewd obscene pornographic profanatory profane
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for obscenely

suggestively, lewdly, viciously

Examples from the Web for obscenely

Contemporary Examples of obscenely

  • But he's just one in a long line of obscenely wealthy characters.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Filthy Rich Movie Characters

    Marlow Stern

    April 8, 2011

  • In fact, there is a way for the federal government to go after the obscenely excessive bonuses paid to the Wall Street pigs.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How to Shake Down the Banks

    Matt Miller

    March 6, 2009

  • That picture of octuplets' mom's obscenely large bulge represents an epic pop culture meltdown.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mother of All Disasters

    Tina Brown

    February 12, 2009

Historical Examples of obscenely

British Dictionary definitions for obscenely



offensive or outrageous to accepted standards of decency or modesty
law (of publications) having a tendency to deprave or corrupt
disgusting; repellentan obscene massacre
Derived Formsobscenely, adverb

Word Origin for obscene

C16: from Latin obscēnus inauspicious, perhaps related to caenum filth
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 obscenely



1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from Middle French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "onto" (see ob-) + caenum "filth." Meaning "offensive to modesty or decency" is attested from 1590s. Legally, in U.S., it hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":

The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Related: Obscenely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper