[ sat-er-ney-lee-uh, -neyl-yuh ]
/ ˌsæt ərˈneɪ li ə, -ˈneɪl yə /

noun, plural Sat·ur·na·li·a, Sat·ur·na·li·as.

(sometimes used with a plural verb) the festival of Saturn, celebrated in December in ancient Rome as a time of unrestrained merrymaking.
(lowercase) unrestrained revelry; orgy.

Origin of Saturnalia

1585–95; < Latin Sāturnālia, equivalent to Sāturn(us) Saturn + -ālia, neuter plural of -ālis -al1

Related formsSat·ur·na·li·an, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for saturnalia

British Dictionary definitions for saturnalia


/ (ˌsætəˈneɪlɪə) /

noun plural -lia or -lias

an ancient Roman festival celebrated in December: renowned for its general merrymaking
(sometimes not capital) a period or occasion of wild revelry
Derived FormsSaturnalian, adjective

Word Origin for Saturnalia

C16: from Latin Sāturnālis relating to Saturn 1

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 saturnalia



time of merrymaking, 1590s, from Latin Saturnalia, ancient Roman festivals of Saturn (held in December), a time of merrymaking for all, from neuter plural of adjective Saturnalis "pertaining to Saturn," from Saturnus (see Saturn). They correspond to the Greek Kronia. The extended sense of "period of unrestrained revelry" is first attested 1782. Related: Saturnalian.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper