[proo r-ee-uh nt]
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  1. having, inclined to have, or characterized by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc.
  2. causing lasciviousness or lust.
  3. having a restless desire or longing.

Origin of prurient

1630–40; < Latin prūrient- (stem of prūriēns), present participle of prūrīre to itch
Related formspru·ri·ence, pru·ri·en·cy, nounpru·ri·ent·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for prurience


  1. unusually or morbidly interested in sexual thoughts or practices
  2. exciting or encouraging lustfulness; erotic
Derived Formsprurience, nounpruriently, adverb

Word Origin for prurient

C17: from Latin prūrīre to itch, to lust after
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 prurience

1680s, from prurient + -ence. Related: Pruriency (1660s).



1630s, "itching," later, and now exclusively, "having an itching desire" (1650s), especially "lascivious, lewd," (1746), from Latin prurientem (nominative pruriens), present participle of prurire "to itch; to long for, be wanton," perhaps related to pruna "glowing coals," from PIE root *preus- "to freeze; burn" (see freeze (v.)). Related: Pruriently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper