Definition of decadent in US English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Implicit in the myth is the judgment of a decadent present in need of regenerative cultural renewal.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But this is a play about temptation, about the superficial and decadent obsessions of 1940s British theatre culture.’
    • ‘More conventionally, Squire Hamilton represents a type common in Hammer horrors of the period: the depraved, decadent aristocrat.’
    • ‘It was the most decadent time in German history, but also the most controlling and brutal time.’
    • ‘The doom of what they see as the decadent West is, they say, inevitable.’
    • ‘He freely indulges in the decadent lifestyle around him, and dabbles in any drug his friends put in front of him.’
    • ‘Restraint in dress represented a reaction to the excesses of a corrupt monarchy and decadent regime.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘History tells us that decadent cultures which have lost the will to fight do not survive.’
    • ‘Those values have more or less passed away, during this decadent cultural period in which we have lived.’
    • ‘Watching satellite television has been illegal as it is seen as the conveyor of decadent western culture.’
    • ‘These people - philosophers like Nietzsche - fantasised that violence would purify our culture of decadent and degenerate forces.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Thirty years ago Aron worried about a kind of hedonistic self-indulgence characteristic of decadent societies.’
    dissolute, dissipated, degenerate, corrupt, depraved, louche, rakish, shameless, sinful, unprincipled, immoral, licentious, wanton, abandoned, unrestrained, profligate, intemperate, fast-living
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Luxuriously self-indulgent.
      ‘a decadent soak in a scented bath’
      • ‘I stepped in and soaked my body in the tub, savoring the decadent feeling of the water sloshing around me.’
      • ‘Like a fine wine, or a decadent chocolate truffle it requires savoring, indulging, and enjoying.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most people think of chocolate as a decadent dessert that should be avoided by health-conscious consumers.’
      • ‘You also get an in-room dinner, complete with a decadent chocolate dessert.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Note that though it tastes sweet and rich and decadent, it's actually quite low calorie.’
      • ‘The heavy atmosphere of the luxurious furnishings sets a decadent mood.’
      • ‘Did he go hunting or riding or sailing, play tennis or bowls, and indulge himself in decadent or amorous pursuits?’
      • ‘One of his companies specialises in the most indulgent and decadent pampering of mind, body and soul to be found in the Home Counties.’
      • ‘Bullock plays Gwen Cummings, a successful writer who shares an enviably decadent New York lifestyle with her equally hedonistic British boyfriend Jasper.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Grab your swimsuits and get ready for a day of decadent indulgence.’
      • ‘Today, Sin City is all about having a decadent and hedonistic great night out.’
      • ‘I saw it yesterday - a midday summer movie by myself, one of my few truly decadent indulgences - and found it surprisingly funny and true.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sipping a decadent tamarind margarita, I sank into a plump towelling-covered chair.’
      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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fran Landesman is still the poet laureate of lovers and losers: her songs are the secret diaries of the desperate and the decadent.’
    • ‘Single cream or pouring cream is used for enriching and finishing sauces, soups, stews, desserts and coffee or cereals for the decadent.’
    1. 1.1 A member of a group of late-19th-century French and English poets associated with the Aesthetic Movement.
      • ‘Pater's descriptions opened the eyes of the English decadents to the painter's enigmatic beauty, and he became a cult figure.’
      • ‘Whereas earlier decadents played with the idea and symbols of a passive, beautiful death, with Futurism it became violent, hard and cold.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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