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[uh b-sen-i-tee, -see-ni-] /əbˈsɛn ɪ ti, -ˈsi nɪ-/
noun, plural obscenities for 2, 3.
the character or quality of being obscene; indecency; lewdness.
something obscene, as a picture or story.
an obscene word or expression, especially when used as an invective.
Origin of obscenity
1600-10; < French obscenité < Latin obscēnitās, equivalent to obscēn(us) obscene + -itās -ity
Related forms
antiobscenity, noun, plural antiobscenities, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for obscenities
  • In reform school, he got into fights and screamed obscenities at the staff.
  • When fans booed her for a bad play, she yelled obscenities at them.
  • He would rage online, typing the cruelest obscenities to people imaginable.
  • He finally saves himself from all these obscenities by plunging into a pool.
  • He screamed obscenities at the television, threw his loafers at the screen, and stormed out of the room several times.
  • She called police and started putting her groceries away when the boys came back, shouting obscenities and lobbing bricks.
  • Vulgarities and obscenities are not allowed for instance.
  • Footage of his lap had to be bleeped considerably because he hurled obscenities throughout his drive.
  • Emails, letters, or phone calls which contain obscenities or defamatory comments may not receive a response.
  • The claimant's use of obscenities was due to his being emotionally upset.
British Dictionary definitions for obscenities


noun (pl) -ties
the state or quality of being obscene
an obscene act, statement, word, etc
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 obscenities



1580s, "obscene quality," from French obscénité, from Latin obscenitatem (nominative obscenitas) "inauspiciousness, filthiness," from obscenus "offensive" (see obscene). Meaning "a foul or loathsome act" is 1610s. Sense of "an obscene utterance or word" is attested by 1690. Related: Obscenities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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obscenities in Culture

obscenity definition

Behavior, appearance, or expression (such as films and books) that violate accepted standards of sexual morality. American courts have long tried to define obscenity but without much success. Some believe, for example, that any depiction of nudity is obscene; others would argue that nudity in itself is not obscene. (See four-letter words and pornography.)

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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