Word Origin & History
mid-14c., "freeing from temporal punishment for sin," from L. indulgentia "complaisance, fondness, remission," from indulgentem (nom. indulgens), prp. of indulgere "be kind, yield," of unknown origin. Sense of "gratification of another's desire or humor" is attested from late 14c. That of "yielding to
one's inclinations" (technically self-indulgence) is from 1640s. In British history, Indulgence also refers to grants of certain liberties to Nonconformists under Charles II and James II, as special favors rather than legal rights; specifically the Declarations of Indulgence of 1672, 1687, and 1688 in England and 1669, 1672, and 1687 in Scotland.