Definition of obscenity in English:



  • 1The state or quality of being obscene; obscene behavior, language, or images.

    ‘the book was banned for obscenity’
    • ‘‘Shanghai Baby’ was not the only book banned for obscenity in China.’
    • ‘From common law libel to public obscenity to nude dancing to burning the flag, the Supreme Court has extended legal protection under the aegis of the First Amendment's clause protecting the freedom of speech.’
    • ‘First, while obscenity is illegal, pornography is not, when viewed by adults.’
    • ‘Morality is one of those things, like obscenity, that arbiters have had a hard time defining.’
    • ‘This standard allows a state to judge obscenity, at least in part, on the basis of local standards, although there are apparently limits to the extent that idiosyncratically intolerant local standards may apply.’
    • ‘The government has historically used obscenity and copyright laws to stifle the importation of ‘undesirable’ foreign media.’
    • ‘Undoubtedly, English law was imprecise on the matter of obscenity, and the jurist might well have found this irritating.’
    • ‘Zine editors, we are told, feel they are immune to the restrictions of copyright, libel and obscenity laws, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and pagination.’
    • ‘Because the Court has ruled that obscenity is not protected speech, the FCC may ban it entirely.’
    • ‘Wade through the policy statements and obscenity violation documents the Federal Communications Commission makes available to the public, and you will fast get lost in a sea of legal jargon.’
    • ‘The few restrictions allowed concern such matters as obscenity, libel, national security, and the sometimes conflicting right to a fair trial.’
    • ‘When I think of ‘narrative,’ I'm reminded of the Supreme Court Justice asked to define obscenity: I know it when I see it.’
    • ‘Officials are reviewing several complaints regarding obscenity and lawmakers are moving quickly to provide regulators with even more ammunition.’
    • ‘The judge then turned to the statutory definition of obscenity and said that it -’
    • ‘I have deleted the post involving obscenity and banned the poster from commenting, although they told me that they would not be returning to the site in any event.’
    • ‘For better or worse, the standing ‘test’ for obscenity created by our Supreme Court does not define it in absolute terms, but defers to ‘community standards’.’
    • ‘Anti-gambling activists argue that economic gains are overstated and legalization would cause obscenity, violence, and other social problems.’
    • ‘I've looked at the extradition treaty and there's no extradition for obscenity.’
    • ‘He did not oppose legislation governing obscenity or child pornography, but decried the exploitation of fear of child pornography to further bids to censor the Net.’
    • ‘The Net can sometimes seem like a monstrous fountain of obscenity, hate and lies, the ultimate refuge for sociopaths releasing years of pent-up frustration.’
    indecency, immorality, impropriety, salaciousness, smuttiness, smut, lewdness, rudeness, vulgarity, dirtiness, dirt, filthiness, filth, foulness, coarseness, crudeness, grossness, vileness, nastiness, impurity, immodesty, indelicacy, indecorousness, unwholesomeness, scabrousness, ribaldry, bawdiness, suggestiveness, eroticism, carnality, lasciviousness, lechery, licentiousness, libidinousness, degeneracy, depravity, amorality, debauchery, dissoluteness, prurience
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An extremely offensive word or expression.
      ‘the men scowled and muttered obscenities’
      • ‘A couple of days ago some high school sophomore flooded my comments boxes with obscenities.’
      • ‘He noticed that most of the other words were racist epithets or the standard obscenities.’
      • ‘Andy continued to mutter obscenities to herself, although too low for anyone to hear or see.’
      • ‘They fell over onto one side of the bike, with the man called Tweeter cursing obscenities as he fell.’
      • ‘Rick muttered obscenities and threats to kill them all, which she sensibly ignored.’
      • ‘Do you know how hard it is to do accents and voices and obscenities, and make them sound brilliant and funny?’
      • ‘A stream of curses and obscenities streamed through my mind, begging to be screamed.’
      • ‘As he walked over to our side of the room, I heard him mutter some obscenities under his breath.’
      • ‘Muttering a stream of obscenities, she threw the pan into the sink with a loud clatter.’
      • ‘One of his opponents was last seen heading for the showers at Laem Chabang muttering obscenities under his breath.’
      • ‘If you chanted the kind of obscenities heard tonight at an English football ground you'd be thrown out - probably for life.’
      • ‘I get up muttering obscenities under my breath as I try to wake up my foot that has decided to fall asleep on me.’
      • ‘He carries 500 pages of juicy swear words and obscenities with him, which never leaves his hands.’
      • ‘Merrick was muttering obscenities and Ryder under his breath while she finished up.’
      • ‘He furiously pointed at Powell and launched a broadside of obscenities at the Secretary.’
      • ‘I mutter a few obscenities under my breath before trying to ignore him.’
      • ‘The extremists have shouted obscenities at her in front of her children and other neighborhood children.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, it is filled with obscenities and blasphemies of the highest order.’
      • ‘All the while, they were shouting obscenities about my mother and other vile profanities.’
      • ‘When the game was over, Drew stalked off, muttering obscenities under his breath.’


Late 16th century: from French obscénité or Latin obscaenitas, from obscaenus (see obscene).