[ uhb-sen-i-tee, -see-ni- ]
See synonyms for obscenity on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural ob·scen·i·ties for 2, 3.
  1. the character or quality of being obscene; indecency; lewdness.

  2. something obscene, as a picture or story.

  1. an obscene word or expression, especially when used as an invective.

Origin of obscenity

First recorded in 1600–10; from French obscenité, from Latin obscēnitās, equivalent to obscēn(us)obscene + -itās-ity

Other words for obscenity

Other words from obscenity

  • an·ti·ob·scen·i·ty, noun, plural an·ti·ob·scen·i·ties, adjective

Words Nearby obscenity

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use obscenity in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for obscenity


/ (əbˈsɛnɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  1. the state or quality of being obscene

  2. 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

Cultural definitions for obscenity


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.