Definition of indulgence in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The action or fact of indulging.

    ‘indulgence in self-pity’
    • ‘It was either taught in parables or using horror messages to discourage young people from ‘premarital’ sexual indulgence.’
    • ‘Now, by love I don't mean indulgence or sentimentality.’
    • ‘If this is indulgence, then indulge me, because I'm impressed and fascinated.’
    • ‘It might not be the most impressive show in the festival, but it's precisely the sort of experimental, self-regarding indulgence that I'd expect in Venice.’
    • ‘I'll bet most of you reading this can relate to the struggle back and forth: indulgence vs. virtue, comfort food vs. fitness fuel.’
    • ‘Is this writing, then, some kind of solipsistic indulgence conducted purely for your own benefit?’
    • ‘Many items came complete with copper food warmers, and the entire evening was one of indulgence (and overindulgence at times).’
    • ‘First and foremost, Antony writes for himself, but this it is no selfish indulgence.’
    • ‘Students showed a greater disposition to disclose indulgence in these behaviors to peers and others outside the family than to those within it.’
    • ‘She would never let him get away with such indulgence in self-pity.’
    • ‘‘We appeal to you to guard against excessive indulgence and lack of discernment in behavioural patterns,’ he said.’
    • ‘The city of indulgence and excess will be this summer's location for the largest annual scientific forum and food technology exposition.’
    • ‘And we will have contributed a good deal of pain, cruelty and selfish indulgence to the karma of the universe.’
    • ‘King is indulging his imagination, and we have to indulge his indulgence if we're going to enjoy this.’
    • ‘The very measures that are supposed to protect our young people from over indulgence of self-abuse habits are in fact the lures that draw them into it.’
    • ‘But the mood is not one of back-slapping indulgence and self-congratulation.’
    • ‘I think this neglect of graphic design as a serious discipline is the fact that it is seen mainly as based on aesthetic indulgence.’
    • ‘This post is a sad observation inspired by what I find to be excessive indulgence in predictory politics in the previous post in this weblog.’
    satisfaction, satisfying, gratification, gratifying, fulfilment, fulfilling, satiation, appeasement, assuagement, quenching, slaking
    self-gratification, self-indulgence, overindulgence, overconsumption, intemperance, immoderation, immoderateness, dissipation, dissolution, dissoluteness, debauchery, excess, excessiveness, lack of restraint, prodigality, extravagance, decadence, pleasure-seeking, wantonness, lack of self-control
    pampering, coddling, mollycoddling, cosseting, babying, mothering, nannying
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The state or attitude of being indulgent or tolerant.
      ‘she regarded his affairs with a casual, slightly amused indulgence’
      • ‘The US had once looked upon Japanese ambitions with a level of sympathy, even indulgence.’
      • ‘But often there's a slightly patronising tone, a hint of indulgence.’
      • ‘So the starting point of the law is an essentially agnostic view of religious beliefs and a tolerant indulgence to religious and cultural diversity.’
      • ‘Inside, the new-style voting forms were being accepted with the slightest shrug of indulgence; it changes, it stays the same.’
      • ‘We are in the era of guarded opulence and while heads are rolling in town, a certain level of indulgence continues to continue in Napoleon's France.’
      • ‘To be able to look at childhood fantasies with indulgence and optimism is a lot about recognising the child in all of us.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, this talent had a weak side: her inclination toward indulgence and spoiling her little darlings.’
      • ‘If we had, we would not treat blatant apologists for the Soviet Union with fond indulgence and even respect.’
      tolerance, forbearance, humanity, compassion, kindness, understanding, sympathy, liberalness, liberality, forgiveness, leniency, lenience, clemency, mercy, mercifulness
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    2. 1.2[count noun]A thing that is indulged in; a luxury.
      ‘Claire collects shoes—it is her indulgence’
      • ‘A naughty but nice treat or a well-deserved indulgence?’
      • ‘Although health care may seem more pressing, national parks and forests are not frills or indulgences.’
      • ‘During my week off I took to the streets in search of indulgences.’
      • ‘With indulgence in luxuries out of the question, he recommended reading, gardening and amateur theatricals.’
      • ‘I saw it yesterday - a midday summer movie by myself, one of my few truly decadent indulgences - and found it surprisingly funny and true.’
      • ‘As with most medieval societies, meat was a luxury, enjoyed only as an occasional indulgence.’
      • ‘To offset these culinary indulgences, one could visit the more dramatic hill towns, like Cordes-sur-Ciel, Rocamador, or Loubressac, and climb their steep streets.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, I'm pandering to all my worst indulgences.’
      • ‘I saw therapy as an indulgence, a luxury I couldn't afford, and the idea of antidepressants frightened me.’
      • ‘His cakes table was groaning with elegant indulgences.’
      • ‘A big earner but a careful spender, his main indulgences are fishing equipment and holidays - and even then he stuffs his four kids in economy while he flies club.’
      • ‘She names two much-anthologized poets, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, as her two great indulgences.’
      • ‘This is consumer advertising that recognises that consumers are having a difficult time of it and market their products as little luxuries or indulgences.’
      • ‘Their several-course dinner includes such gourmet indulgences as steamed lobster, veal, scallop brochettes, ravioli with almond crumbs and more.’
      • ‘His only indulgences are fashion and fast cars and neither is a crime, although that sarong came close.’
      • ‘He replaced these beloved indulgences with fruit and yogurt.’
      • ‘I had one of my favourite breakfast indulgences: a deluxe Belgian waffle with strawberries, whipped cream, pecans and brown sugar.’
      extravagance, luxury, treat, comfort, non-essential, extra, frill
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  • 2historical (in the Roman Catholic Church) a grant by the Pope of remission of the temporal punishment in purgatory still due for sins after absolution. The unrestricted sale of indulgences by pardoners was a widespread abuse during the later Middle Ages.

    • ‘Being a student of medieval history, I've been aware for a long time of the doctrine of plenary indulgences within the Catholic Church.’
    • ‘Most especially Luther disputed the sale of indulgences whereby, as Luther perceived, believers might buy forgiveness for themselves or their departed relatives.’
    • ‘As it is, relics and indulgences seem to be trivial grounds for the radical actions that follow.’
    • ‘Pay-per-view religion is a very contemporary idea and offers a new way to charge for indulgences.’
    • ‘The Reformation erupted over just this issue in the sale of indulgences.’
    • ‘The ‘treasures of the Church,’ out of which the Pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.’
    • ‘In what way does it differ from the sale of indulgences in the 16th century which brought great discredit to the church?’
    • ‘They prepared proper accommodations and obtained special indulgences for the pilgrims so that their visit would be as spiritual as possible.’
    • ‘Indeed, as Richard points out, the plenary indulgence first given to the Crusaders soon ceased to be the primary motive for undertaking a Crusade.’
    • ‘I like the idea of sales of indulgences making a comeback, though!’
    • ‘Moreover, it was not necessary to travel to St. Peter's, as these indulgences were granted to those who prayed in front of a representation of the Vera Icon as well.’
    • ‘The practice of granting indulgences - remission of punishment for sins through the intercession of the Church - already had a long history.’
    • ‘There have also been grumblings about charges and tithes collected by churches - indulgences being one case.’
    • ‘Surely Paul was not thinking of the crisis over 16th-century indulgences when he wrote about ‘faith alone’.’
    • ‘Basically if you knew that you had sinned you would wait until a pardoner was in your region selling an indulgence and purchase one.’
  • 3An extension of the time in which a bill or debt has to be paid.

    ‘the notice given granted a final indulgence of four weeks’
    • ‘It is merely intended as an indulgence offered by the lender to the borrower.’


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin indulgentia, from the verb indulgere (see indulge).