obscene


obscene
obscene (adj.) 1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from M.Fr. obscene, from L. obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "onto" (see OB- (Cf. 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.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • obscène — [ ɔpsɛn ] adj. • 1534; lat. obscenus « de mauvais augure » ♦ Qui blesse la délicatesse par des représentations ou des manifestations grossières de la sexualité. « Les livres les plus monstrueusement obscènes » (Hugo). ⇒ licencieux, pornographique …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • obscene — ob·scene /äb sēn/ adj [Middle French, from Latin obscenus obscaenus indecent, lewd]: extremely or deeply offensive according to contemporary community standards of morality or decency see also roth v. united states in the important cases section… …   Law dictionary

  • Obscene — Ob*scene , a. [L. obscenus, obscaenus, obscoenus, ill looking, filthy, obscene: cf. F. obsc[ e]ne.] [1913 Webster] 1. Offensive to chastity or modesty; expressing or presenting to the mind or view something which delicacy, purity, and decency… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • obscene — During a century that tried repeatedly to define the meaning and implications of obscenity in relation to literature, the performing arts, and (above all) the cinema, the word obscene gathered strength in its other main meaning, ‘highly offensive …   Modern English usage

  • obscene — OBSCENE, adj. de tout genre. Deshonneste, sale, qui blesse la pudeur. Paroles obscenes. mot obscene. ce poëte est obscene. chanson obscene. il y a quelque chose d obscene dans ce tableau. cela laisse des idées obscenes …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • obscene — ► ADJECTIVE 1) offending accepted standards of decency; offensive or disgusting. 2) morally repugnant through being excessive: obscene pay rises. DERIVATIVES obscenely adverb. ORIGIN Latin obscaenus ill omened, abominable …   English terms dictionary

  • obscene — [äb sēn′, əbsēn′] adj. [Fr obscène < L obscenus, obscaenus < obs , var. of ob (see OB ) + caenum, filth < IE * k̑weino < base * kwei , muck, filth > ON hvein, swampy land] 1. offensive to one s feelings, or to prevailing notions,… …   English World dictionary

  • obscene — gross, vulgar, ribald, *coarse Analogous words: indecent, indelicate, *indecorous: lewd, lascivious, wanton, *licentious: foul, nasty, *dirty Antonyms: decent …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • obscene — [adj] indecent, offensive, immoral atrocious, barnyard*, bawdy, blue*, coarse, crude, dirty*, disgusting, evil, filthy, foul, gross, heinous, hideous, horrible, immodest, improper, impure, lascivious, lewd, licentious, loathsome, loose*, lustful …   New thesaurus

  • obscene — [[t]ɒbsi͟ːn[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED If you describe something as obscene, you mean it offends you because it relates to sex or violence in a way that you think is unpleasant and shocking. I m not prudish but I think these photographs are obscene... He …   English dictionary


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