Definition of indulgence in US English:



  • 1The action or fact of indulging.

    ‘indulgence in self-pity’
    • ‘First and foremost, Antony writes for himself, but this it is no selfish indulgence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was either taught in parables or using horror messages to discourage young people from ‘premarital’ sexual indulgence.’
    • ‘She would never let him get away with such indulgence in self-pity.’
    • ‘But the mood is not one of back-slapping indulgence and self-congratulation.’
    • ‘Now, by love I don't mean indulgence or sentimentality.’
    • ‘King is indulging his imagination, and we have to indulge his indulgence if we're going to enjoy this.’
    • ‘I'll bet most of you reading this can relate to the struggle back and forth: indulgence vs. virtue, comfort food vs. fitness fuel.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘Is this writing, then, some kind of solipsistic indulgence conducted purely for your own benefit?’
    • ‘If this is indulgence, then indulge me, because I'm impressed and fascinated.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Students showed a greater disposition to disclose indulgence in these behaviors to peers and others outside the family than to those within it.’
    • ‘And we will have contributed a good deal of pain, cruelty and selfish indulgence to the karma of the universe.’
    • ‘I think this neglect of graphic design as a serious discipline is the fact that it is seen mainly as based on aesthetic indulgence.’
    • ‘Many items came complete with copper food warmers, and the entire evening was one of indulgence (and overindulgence at times).’
    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. 1.1 The 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.’
      • ‘If we had, we would not treat blatant apologists for the Soviet Union with fond indulgence and even respect.’
      • ‘Inside, the new-style voting forms were being accepted with the slightest shrug of indulgence; it changes, it stays the same.’
      • ‘But often there's a slightly patronising tone, a hint of indulgence.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, this talent had a weak side: her inclination toward indulgence and spoiling her little darlings.’
      • ‘To be able to look at childhood fantasies with indulgence and optimism is a lot about recognising the child in all of us.’
      • ‘So the starting point of the law is an essentially agnostic view of religious beliefs and a tolerant indulgence to religious and cultural diversity.’
      • ‘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.’
      tolerance, forbearance, humanity, compassion, kindness, understanding, sympathy, liberalness, liberality, forgiveness, leniency, lenience, clemency, mercy, mercifulness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A thing that is indulged in; a luxury.
      ‘Claire collects shoes—it is her 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.’
      • ‘Although health care may seem more pressing, national parks and forests are not frills or indulgences.’
      • ‘A naughty but nice treat or a well-deserved indulgence?’
      • ‘I saw it yesterday - a midday summer movie by myself, one of my few truly decadent indulgences - and found it surprisingly funny and true.’
      • ‘With indulgence in luxuries out of the question, he recommended reading, gardening and amateur theatricals.’
      • ‘His only indulgences are fashion and fast cars and neither is a crime, although that sarong came close.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘During my week off I took to the streets in search of indulgences.’
      • ‘I saw therapy as an indulgence, a luxury I couldn't afford, and the idea of antidepressants frightened me.’
      • ‘He replaced these beloved indulgences with fruit and yogurt.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, I'm pandering to all my worst indulgences.’
      • ‘I had one of my favourite breakfast indulgences: a deluxe Belgian waffle with strawberries, whipped cream, pecans and brown sugar.’
      • ‘His cakes table was groaning with elegant 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.’
      • ‘She names two much-anthologized poets, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, as her two great indulgences.’
      • ‘As with most medieval societies, meat was a luxury, enjoyed only as an occasional indulgence.’
      extravagance, luxury, treat, comfort, non-essential, extra, frill
      View synonyms
  • 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.

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

    • ‘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).