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[dek-uh-duh nt, dih-keyd-nt] /ˈdɛk ə dənt, dɪˈkeɪd nt/
characterized by decadence, especially culturally or morally:
a decadent life of excessive money and no sense of responsibility.
(often initial capital letter) of or like the decadents.
a person who is decadent.
(often initial capital letter) one of a group of French and English writers of the latter part of the 19th century whose works were characterized by aestheticism, great refinement or subtlety of style, and a marked tendency toward the artificial and abnormal in content.
Origin of decadent
1830-40; back formation from decadence; see -ent
Related forms
[dek-uh-duh nt-lee, dih-keyd-nt-] /ˈdɛk ə dənt li, dɪˈkeɪd nt-/ (Show IPA),
nondecadent, adjective, noun
overdecadent, adjective
overdecadently, adverb
semidecadent, adjective
semidecadently, adverb
undecadent, adjective
undecadently, adverb
1. corrupt, immoral, degenerate, debased, debauched, self-indulgent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for decadent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He also had his decadent followers, but there was no one to continue his methods and inspiration.

    Modern Painting, Its Tendency and Meaning Willard Huntington Wright
  • The exquisiteness of the decadent efflorescence of a passing race.

    Lady Bountiful George A. Birmingham
  • The Germans had been shown that we were not a decadent nation.

  • Such a cynical and decadent philosophy could not go unchallenged.

  • Islam revivified a decadent Christianity, and the attacks of modern missionaries are strengthening Islam.

    Pan-Islam George Wyman Bury
British Dictionary definitions for decadent


characterized by decay or decline, as in being self-indulgent or morally corrupt
belonging to a period of decline in artistic standards
a decadent person
(often capital) one of a group of French and English writers of the late 19th century whose works were characterized by refinement of style and a tendency towards the artificial and abnormal
Derived Forms
decadently, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decadent

"in a state of decline or decay (from a former condition of excellence)," 1837, from French décadent, back-formation from décadence (see decadence). In reference to literary (later, other artistic) schools that believed, or affected to believe, they lived in an age of artistic decadence, 1885 in French, 1888 in English. Usually in a bad sense, e.g.:

"Bread, supposedly the staff of life, has become one of our most decadent foods -- doughy, gummy, and without the aroma, flavor, texture, taste and appearance that is typical of good bread." ["College and University Business" 1960]
Beckoning sense of "desirable and satisfying to self-indulgence" begins c.1970 in commercial publications in reference to desserts.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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