See also: obscène


Alternative formsEdit


From Middle French obscène, from Latin obscēnus, obscaenus.



obscene (comparative obscener or more obscene, superlative obscenest or most obscene) (see usage notes)

  1. Offensive to current standards of decency or morality
    • 1990, Inder S. Rana, Law of Obscenity in India, USA & UK, →ISBN, page 109:
      What is obscene today may not be so tomorrow or what is obscene at one place may not be obscene at another place.
    • 2001, George Ritzer, Explorations in the Sociology of Consumption, →ISBN, page 8-9:
      The chapter closes with some thoughts on the obscene consumer from both a postmodern, and especially a modern, perspective. From the latter point of view, the obscene consumer is one who either consumes too little or who consumes what are, from the prespective of consumer society, the 'wrong' things (heroin, guns). (I propose the concept of the 'dangerous consumer' here since it is clear that such consumers can pose a danger to contemporary society.) From a postmodern perspective, the obscene consumer is one who consumes in a highly visible manner. Such a consumer comes very close to Veblen's conspicuous consumer. While an argument can be made that some consumers are obscene from a postmodern point of view, the obscenities associated with McDonaldized systems, credit cards, the new means of consumption and so on are far more important than those associated with the consumer.
    • 2009, Ingrid Loschek, When Clothes Become Fashion: Design and Innovation Systems, →ISBN:
      However, the new is not radical or provocative or obscene a priori. Provocation develops when the 'communicative contract' between the clothing and the consumer is broken, resulting in shocked rejection or euphoric acceptance.
    • 2009, Leslie Stratyner & ‎James R. Keller, The Deep End of South Park, →ISBN:
      South Park, at the end of the twentieth century, earned international acclaim as the most obscene, scatological, sacrilegious, and popular comedy in the American mainstream and became a leading profit center for Comedy Central.
  2. Lewd or lustful
    • 1997, Alan Soble, Sexual Investigations, →ISBN, page 104:
      All masturbation is obscene, for Scruton, also because it "involves a concentration on the body and its curious pleaures".
    • 2004, Victor T. Cheney, The Sex Offenses and their Treatments, →ISBN, page 223:
      Obscene phone calling is usually considered a nuisance to the women receiving such calls from a man who makes obscene suggestions or describes his masturbation over the telephone.
    • 2011, Alberto Salinas, Jr, The Border Healer: My Life as a Curandero, →ISBN, page 123:
      I was contacted about a two-year-old Latino male and informed that his behavior was obscene. I was advised about this by two female relatives to the child. They had a hard time explaining to me that the boy wanted to have relations with his grandmother.
    • 2011, Joel B. Green, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics, →ISBN, page 560:
      He asks how pagan gods who exhibit the same destructive passions and obscene desires as wicked humans can be worthy of worship.
    • 2013, Naser Hegazy, Secrets of Love, Marriage, Sex, Genius, Success, and Happiness, →ISBN:
      One of his contradictions, which is puzzling, comes from his objectivity, stubbornness, and great interest in abusive words and obscene jokes, despite his religiousness and his chastity, which he refused to abandon during his life.
    • 2014 March 19, Alexandra Fox, "Women Love Gay Men For Shunning Them", henrymakow.com[1]
      He constantly encourages her to have one-night stands and talk in graphic, obscene detail about the ever-more degrading sex acts she has taken part in.
  3. Disgusting or repulsive
    • 2002, Susanne Heinz & ‎Deborah Miller, Grandmother's Radio: Echoes from the Holocaust, →ISBN, page 66:
      The reminder of who we were made the canned laughter obscene. Disgusted, mother returned to the kitchen, her thoughts private.
    • 2014, Scott Ludwig, My Life: Everything but BUY THE BOOK!:, →ISBN:
      Her mom made her break up with me when she found a note I wrote to Linda; she found it obscene. I found HER obscene.
    • 2017, Tatiana Savoia Landini & ‎François Dépelteau, Norbert Elias and Violence, →ISBN, page 149:
      Of course it is very difficult to pinpoint why someone would resort to such obscene violence.
  4. Excessive; beyond all reason.
    • 2014, Joan Wolf, The Pretenders, →ISBN:
      “You ate an obscene amount of those lobster patties last night, Deb.” “And I plan to eat an obscene amount of them tonight as well,” I replied.
    • 2015, Vivi Barnes, Paper or Plastic, →ISBN:
      She would probably jump at the chance to show everyone how to save an obscene amount of money with an obscene amount of coupons.
    • 2016, Marcela Del Sol, Kaleidoscope : my life's multiple reflections, →ISBN, page 102:
      I was never jealous or envious when it came to things. The fact that Mama wanted to shower my friend with presents never affected me. Things meant nothing to me because I had an obscene quantity of everything.
  5. (law) Liable to deprave or corrupt
    • 2009, Andrea Millwood Hargrave & ‎Sonia M. Livingstone, Harm and Offence in Media Content: A Review of the Evidence, →ISBN:
      An article would have no tendency to deprave if it were so revolting that it would put anyone off the kind of depraved activity depicted. As stated in section 1(1) of the 1959 Act, an article is only obscene if its effect is such as to tend to deprave .
    • 2011, Hugh Jones & ‎Christopher Benson, Publishing Law, →ISBN, page 196:
      An article is not obscene simply because it is repulsive or filthy. The prosecution must prove that its tendency is strong enough actually to deprave and corrupt a significant proportion of its likely audience; in other words, to pervert or corrupt their morals sufficiently for it to constitute a public menace.
    • 2013, Paul Finkelman, Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties, →ISBN, page 1116:
      The tract was far more political and religious than sexual, but Cockburn found it obscene because it would suggest to young persons (of either sex) impure and libidinous thoughts.
    • 2014, Rhona Smith, ‎Eimear Spain, & ‎Richard Glancey, Core Statutes on Public Law & Civil Liberties 2014-15, →ISBN, page 18:
      For the purposes of this Act an article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effector (where the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

Usage notesEdit

  • The comparative obscener and superlative obscenest, though formed by valid rules for English, are less common than more obscene and most obscene.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.




  1. vocative masculine singular of obscēnus




obscene f pl

  1. feminine plural of obscen