Definition of decadent in English:



  • 1Characterized by or reflecting a state of moral or cultural decline.

    ‘a decaying, decadent Britain’
    • ‘Thirty years ago Aron worried about a kind of hedonistic self-indulgence characteristic of decadent societies.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this period is that the authorities tried to persuade him to change his outlook, to abandon what they viewed as a decadent lifestyle, and to write a book or books celebrating the Revolution.’
    • ‘He freely indulges in the decadent lifestyle around him, and dabbles in any drug his friends put in front of him.’
    • ‘The doom of what they see as the decadent West is, they say, inevitable.’
    • ‘I neglected my friends, started listening to her music, dressing the way she wanted me to dress; essentially losing myself in her vacant, decadent lifestyle.’
    • ‘Boogie Nights 2 is essentially a rollercoaster ride through the decadent decade that taste forgot, with references to shell suits, Live Aid and Mrs Thatcher, all soundtracked by hits from Wham!’
    • ‘But this is a play about temptation, about the superficial and decadent obsessions of 1940s British theatre culture.’
    • ‘The films featuring Marlene Dietrich add the paradox of the dazzling yet androgynous female who is simultaneously moral and amoral, eminently proper yet irredeemably decadent.’
    • ‘More conventionally, Squire Hamilton represents a type common in Hammer horrors of the period: the depraved, decadent aristocrat.’
    • ‘Implicit in the myth is the judgment of a decadent present in need of regenerative cultural renewal.’
    • ‘Dietrich's career was formed by the decadent film and theatre scene of pre-war Berlin, but she became famous after moving to the United States, gaining US citizenship in 1937.’
    • ‘Restraint in dress represented a reaction to the excesses of a corrupt monarchy and decadent regime.’
    • ‘His work of this time conveyed disgust at the horrors of war and the depravities of a decadent society with unerring psychological insight and devastating emotional effect.’
    • ‘These people - philosophers like Nietzsche - fantasised that violence would purify our culture of decadent and degenerate forces.’
    • ‘History tells us that decadent cultures which have lost the will to fight do not survive.’
    • ‘It was the most decadent time in German history, but also the most controlling and brutal time.’
    • ‘Watching satellite television has been illegal as it is seen as the conveyor of decadent western culture.’
    • ‘Those values have more or less passed away, during this decadent cultural period in which we have lived.’
    • ‘They banned it because of the novel's sexual description and its characters' decadent lifestyles.’
    • ‘Marilyn Manson, a shock rocker hated by conservatives for his decadent excesses, was rewarded for his sins by having the number one selling album in America during its first week of release.’
    dissolute, dissipated, degenerate, corrupt, depraved, louche, rakish, shameless, sinful, unprincipled, immoral, licentious, wanton, abandoned, unrestrained, profligate, intemperate, fast-living
    sybaritic, voluptuary, epicurean, hedonistic, pleasure-seeking, indulgent, self-indulgent
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Luxuriously self-indulgent.
      ‘a decadent soak in a scented bath’
      • ‘You also get an in-room dinner, complete with a decadent chocolate dessert.’
      • ‘Note that though it tastes sweet and rich and decadent, it's actually quite low calorie.’
      • ‘Did he go hunting or riding or sailing, play tennis or bowls, and indulge himself in decadent or amorous pursuits?’
      • ‘Today, Sin City is all about having a decadent and hedonistic great night out.’
      • ‘Grab your swimsuits and get ready for a day of decadent indulgence.’
      • ‘I stepped in and soaked my body in the tub, savoring the decadent feeling of the water sloshing around me.’
      • ‘Sipping a decadent tamarind margarita, I sank into a plump towelling-covered chair.’
      • ‘The heavy atmosphere of the luxurious furnishings sets a decadent mood.’
      • ‘Hearst was famous for taking various famous friends out for decadent cruises on his luxurious boat.’
      • ‘They reached Marion's room first; a large, luxurious chamber decorated in the decadent style of the times.’
      • ‘It's one of those films where the performers appear to be engaged in some kind of decadent hedonism, but their experience on-screen doesn't translate to a similarly enjoyable one for the audience.’
      • ‘I saw it yesterday - a midday summer movie by myself, one of my few truly decadent indulgences - and found it surprisingly funny and true.’
      • ‘But Furst also conveys the elegant, decadent delights of the prewar good life. One Hungarian character has his sauerkraut cooked not in beer but champagne.’
      • ‘Like a fine wine, or a decadent chocolate truffle it requires savoring, indulging, and enjoying.’
      • ‘Most people think of chocolate as a decadent dessert that should be avoided by health-conscious consumers.’
      • ‘As lush and plush as the name suggests, this Far Eastern-oriented club-bar is a mix of exotic Oriental Zen and decadent western Hedonism.’
      • ‘Fabrics and colours are luxuriously decadent: red felt, magenta georgette, misty grey mohair, powdery blue sheepskin and sequinned fleece knits.’
      • ‘I would have the Food Channel on in the background while I was preparing my food in the morning, watching Emeril prepare horribly decadent things that I would never consider indulging in.’
      • ‘Bullock plays Gwen Cummings, a successful writer who shares an enviably decadent New York lifestyle with her equally hedonistic British boyfriend Jasper.’
      • ‘Your face is smooth and soft; your eyes are dark and look like a decadent pool of rich, sinful chocolate any man would love to drown in.’
      • ‘One of his companies specialises in the most indulgent and decadent pampering of mind, body and soul to be found in the Home Counties.’
      dissolute, dissipated, degenerate, corrupt, depraved, louche, rakish, shameless, sinful, unprincipled, immoral, licentious, wanton, abandoned, unrestrained, profligate, intemperate, fast-living
      View synonyms


  • 1A person who is luxuriously self-indulgent.

    ‘for half a million dollars, he offers rich decadents the chance to lead a deadly safari’
    • ‘Fran Landesman is still the poet laureate of lovers and losers: her songs are the secret diaries of the desperate and the decadent.’
    • ‘The crucial point, however, is not that Thurman's decadents are truly corrupt; they simply appear to be so from the perspective of staid Victorian morality.’
    • ‘The story concerns a dissolute decadent who is enchanted with his beloved, Alicia's, form, but who detests what he considers to be the frivolity and shallowness of her personality.’
    • ‘I spend time with enough decadents to get used to their somewhat skewed sense of fashion, but this young man looks out of place within himself.’
    • ‘Single cream or pouring cream is used for enriching and finishing sauces, soups, stews, desserts and coffee or cereals for the decadent.’
    1. 1.1A member of a group of late 19th-century French and English poets associated with the Aesthetic Movement.
      • ‘She had little formal education but travelled widely in Europe where her somewhat dramatic taste led to an interest in Italian Mannerism, German Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelitism, and the decadents.’
      • ‘Pater's descriptions opened the eyes of the English decadents to the painter's enigmatic beauty, and he became a cult figure.’
      • ‘It was now extolled as the ideal type of the human being, and celebrated accordingly in literature and art, especially among the Symbolists and the Decadents.’
      • ‘His Swan Lake sets and costumes, informed not just by the overripe sensibility of the Pre-Raphaelites but also by Gustave Moreau and other decadents, look breathtaking on paper.’
      • ‘Whereas earlier decadents played with the idea and symbols of a passive, beautiful death, with Futurism it became violent, hard and cold.’


Mid 19th century: from French décadent, from medieval Latin decadentia (see decadence).