Definition of promiscuous in US English:



  • 1Having or characterized by many transient sexual relationships.

    ‘promiscuous teenagers’
    ‘they ran wild, indulging in promiscuous sex and experimenting with drugs’
    • ‘They never demean them in speech, watch vulgar or erotic shows, or associate with lustful or promiscuous women.’
    • ‘Anyone who is sexually promiscuous is of increased risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection.’
    • ‘Apparently that meant I was young, preppy-looking, and potentially very promiscuous.’
    • ‘Instead, he chose to focus his question on the client's change to not being promiscuous.’
    • ‘Still, you have reason to be hesitant if he's been promiscuous lately.’
    • ‘Rather, their narratives suggest that they believe female role models who exhibit sexual agency have a status that protects them from being labeled as promiscuous.’
    • ‘They are just encouraging children to be more promiscuous.’
    • ‘The only reason he turned her down is because this rumor got started that Christy was the most promiscuous girl at our school.’
    • ‘The disease spread most rapidly in those populations that were most promiscuous and engaged in risky sexual activity.’
    • ‘After many years of directing my own sexual education in Paris, I came to see myself as a ‘liberated woman,’ or what some perhaps would call a promiscuous adventurer.’
    • ‘Do you regret not being sexually promiscuous in high school?’
    • ‘If the girl was deemed promiscuous, became pregnant, or could not keep a job, she could be returned to the reform school.’
    licentious, sexually indiscriminate, immoral, unchaste, debauched, dissolute, dissipated, profligate, of easy virtue, fast
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  • 2Demonstrating or implying an undiscriminating or unselective approach; indiscriminate or casual.

    ‘the city fathers were promiscuous with their honors’
    • ‘As the American houses have seduced corporate Britain, so companies have become more promiscuous in their search for intelligence.’
    • ‘There's a difference between being promiscuous and making serious strategic bets that may be the cause for regrets.’
    indiscriminate, undiscriminating, unselective, random, irresponsible, haphazard, thoughtless, unthinking, unconsidered, casual, careless
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    1. 2.1 Consisting of a wide range of different things.
      ‘Americans are free to pick and choose from a promiscuous array of values and behavior’
      • ‘To me, there seems something promiscuous about his geographical range: it looks as though he is looking for battles to fight.’


Early 17th century: from Latin promiscuus ‘indiscriminate’, (based on miscere ‘to mix’) + -ous. The early sense was ‘consisting of elements mixed together’, giving rise to ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘undiscriminating’, whence the notion of ‘casual’.