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[uh b-seen] /əbˈsin/
offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved:
obscene language.
causing uncontrolled sexual desire.
abominable; disgusting; repulsive.
1585-95; < Latin obscēnus, obscaenus
Related forms
obscenely, adverb
obsceneness, noun
unobscene, adjective
unobscenely, adverb
unobsceneness, noun
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for obscenely
  • Right and they will charge an obscenely high price for it, so unless you have great insurance, prepare to keep on suffering.
  • Pay is being aligned more closely with long-term performance, even if it still looks obscenely high to outsiders.
  • But as these memoirs show, he is also self-regarding and obscenely wrongheaded.
  • Unemployment was obscenely high and the sense of community that many had enjoyed in the old country was gone.
  • Several of the obscenely rich people who have made a journey to the orbiting laboratory have claimed to have a serious purpose.
  • Its humors are ghoulish and its hyena laughter snarls obscenely.
  • If you're feeling obscenely rich in this impoverished country, you'll do a tiny bit of good and feel better by eating here.
  • It is one of the many things that politics and moviemaking have in common: they are both obscenely expensive.
  • They blame high gas prices on the price of crude oil, but their obscenely high profits give cause to doubt their reasoning.
  • Some would say, with fair justification, paying for a college education in this country is now obscenely expensive.
British Dictionary definitions for obscenely


offensive or outrageous to accepted standards of decency or modesty
(law) (of publications) having a tendency to deprave or corrupt
disgusting; repellent: an obscene massacre
Derived Forms
obscenely, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin obscēnus inauspicious, perhaps related to caenum filth
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 obscenely



1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from Middle French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "onto" (see ob-) + caenum "filth." Meaning "offensive to modesty or decency" is attested from 1590s. Legally, in U.S., it hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":

The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Related: Obscenely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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