Word: debauchery

Pronunciation: di-BAH-chə-ree

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Last week, I talked about a word for someone who lives by the philosophy of enjoying the fine things in life while still maintaining a modest lifestyle. But what if you wanted to refer to an overindulgence in such pleasures? That’s when you’d step out of the realm of Epicureanism and into the territory of “debauchery”.

“Debauchery” is the act of excessively indulging in sensual pleasures. The word is derived from the verb “debauch”, which means “to morally corrupt”. This verb can be traced back through the Middle French verb desbaucher “to entice from one’s duty” to the Old French verb desbauchier “to lead astray”, which in turn likely comes from the Proto-Germanic noun balkô “balk”.

While “debauchery” can refer to any sort of overindulgence in sensual enjoyment, the word is most commonly associated with scandals involving physical gratification and substance abuse. A somewhat dated sub-definition of the verb “debauch” is “to seduce”, and it can also function as a noun to denote “an individual act of debauchery”. Writers, take note: if your characters seek enjoyment in moderation, you may be writing “epicureans”, but if they go over the top with these pleasures, then “debauchery” may be afoot in your stories! Choose your nouns wisely!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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