Definition of obscene in US English:



  • 1(of the portrayal or description of sexual matters) offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency.

    ‘obscene jokes’
    ‘obscene literature’
    • ‘They said the film was obscene and vulgar and showed women in a poor light.’
    • ‘Every day, he says, children would hurl obscene and offensive abuse at teachers.’
    • ‘It is considered rude, even obscene in Japan, Greece, Spain and some South American states.’
    • ‘Thereafter, colonial censors turned their attention more closely to stamping out obscene literature.’
    • ‘They had already beaten up and name-called other boys from his school, and subjected girls to obscene sexual innuendo.’
    • ‘You many not choose a name that is obscene, offensive, unreasonably long or contrary to public interest.’
    • ‘It also facilitates adults with a sexual interest in children to view obscene material and trade it.’
    • ‘Any local band can apply to play a set on stage, but organisers are warning acts that obscene lyrics and lewd behaviour are out of the question.’
    • ‘It may be said that this movie is crude, profane, and even obscene at times - but so is war.’
    • ‘The content should more realistically be described as obscene language.’
    • ‘At that moment, they noticed I was watching them and greeted me with a tirade of foul language and obscene gestures.’
    • ‘Some women might like their men to talk dirty but this was obscene filth.’
    • ‘If someone leaves a comment, it appears as written unless the comment is obscene or vulgar.’
    • ‘The court said obscene material should be judged by local standards.’
    • ‘This poem uses obscene words to describe obscene acts and obscene attitudes.’
    • ‘Football chants are cruel, obscene, offensive, sometimes downright sick and often very funny.’
    • ‘It is the voyeur in the audience who is the reason for offensive and obscene scenes in films.’
    • ‘He remembered the girls going into the pub and conceded that one of the group had made a remark about them which was very offensive and highly obscene.’
    • ‘Mr Danby suggests rules which include deleting mail containing obscene, racist or offensive material.’
    • ‘All 520 copies were confiscated under a charge of obscene literature.’
    pornographic, indecent, salacious, smutty, x-rated, lewd, rude, dirty, filthy, vulgar, foul, coarse, crude, gross, vile, nasty, disgusting, offensive, shameless, immoral, improper, immodest, impure, indecorous, indelicate, unwholesome, scabrous, off colour, lubricious, risqué, ribald, bawdy, suggestive, titillating, racy, erotic, carnal, sensual, sexy, lascivious, lecherous, licentious, libidinous, goatish, degenerate, depraved, amoral, debauched, dissolute, prurient
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    1. 1.1 Offensive to moral principles; repugnant.
      ‘using animals' skins for fur coats is obscene’
      • ‘As each news bulletin heralds an upwards revision of long past obscene totals, alternative conclusions are easy to avoid.’
      • ‘Few people today would describe the First World War as anything other than an obscene slaughter.’
      • ‘I palmed the offending items into a napkin and slipped the obscene bundle into my trouser pocket for disposal later.’
      • ‘The obscene inequalities of wealth dividing rich and poor nations must be reduced.’
      • ‘It becomes the vehicle for corporate branding of the most vulgar sort and it encourages waste on an obscene scale.’
      • ‘If only she could express it without employing obscene moral parallels.’
      • ‘The principal explanation lies in the obscene moral inversion of victim culture.’
      shocking, scandalous, vile, foul, atrocious, outrageous, heinous, wicked, evil, odious, abhorrent, abominable, disgusting, hideous, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, repellent, obnoxious, offensive, objectionable, loathsome, hateful, nauseating, sickening, awful, dreadful, terrible, frightful, ghastly
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Late 16th century: from French obscène or Latin obscaenus ‘ill-omened or abominable’.