the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good.
devotion to pleasure as a way of life: The later Roman emperors were notorious for their hedonism.

1855–60; < Greek hēdon() pleasure + -ism

2. sensualism, libertinism, debauchery, dissipation, carousal.

2. puritanism, asceticism, abstemiousness, self-denial.
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World English Dictionary
hedonism (ˈhiːdəˌnɪzəm, ˈhɛd-)
1.  ethics
 a.  See utilitarianism the doctrine that moral value can be defined in terms of pleasure
 b.  the doctrine that the pursuit of pleasure is the highest good
2.  the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of principle
3.  indulgence in sensual pleasures
[C19: from Greek hēdonē pleasure]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1856, from Gk. hedone (see hedonist) + -ism.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
hedonism [(heed-n-iz-uhm)]

In ethics, the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good in life. Some hedonists, such as the Epicureans, have insisted that pleasure of the entire mind, not just pleasure of the senses, is this highest good.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Rebelling against her upbringing, Karen spends the summer in a haze of hedonism.
These events were pure hedonism.
He's not the only college student willing to trade hedonism for altruism on
  spring break.
Throughout this biography, he keeps Morris's public service and his private
  hedonism on separate, parallel tracks.
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