[uh b-sen-i-tee, -see-ni-]

noun, plural ob·scen·i·ties for 2, 3.

the character or quality of being obscene; indecency; lewdness.
something obscene, as a picture or story.
an obscene word or expression, especially when used as an invective.

Origin of obscenity

1600–10; < French obscenité < Latin obscēnitās, equivalent to obscēn(us) obscene + -itās -ity
Related formsan·ti·ob·scen·i·ty, noun, plural an·ti·ob·scen·i·ties, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for obscenities

Contemporary Examples of obscenities

Historical Examples of obscenities

  • "Profanities, obscenities, er—swear-words," suggested Challis.

    The Wonder

    J. D. Beresford

  • I leave untouched the gross obscenities and immoral decisions.

  • We let obscene writers write about the obscenities of this ordinary man.

    A Chesterton Calendar

    G. K. Chesterton

  • And Chet knew that the obscenities were intended for his companions and himself.

    Brood of the Dark Moon

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • When at last he found his tongue a flood of obscenities flowed.

    Port O' Gold

    Louis John Stellman

British Dictionary definitions for obscenities


noun plural -ties

the state or quality of being obscene
an obscene act, statement, word, etc
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 obscenities



1580s, "obscene quality," from French obscénité, from Latin obscenitatem (nominative obscenitas) "inauspiciousness, filthiness," from obscenus "offensive" (see obscene). Meaning "a foul or loathsome act" is 1610s. Sense of "an obscene utterance or word" is attested by 1690. Related: Obscenities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

obscenities in Culture


Behavior, appearance, or expression (such as films and books) that violate accepted standards of sexual morality. American courts have long tried to define obscenity but without much success. Some believe, for example, that any depiction of nudity is obscene; others would argue that nudity in itself is not obscene. (See four-letter words (see also four-letter words) and pornography.)

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.