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Borrowed from Latin profānitās. By surface analysis, profane +‎ -ity.


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profanity (countable and uncountable, plural profanities)

  1. (uncountable) The quality of being profane; quality of irreverence, of treating sacred things with contempt.
    • 1910, John William Cousin, “Bunyan, John”, in A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature:
      The overwhelming power of his imagination led him to contemplate acts of impiety and profanity, and to a vivid realisation of the dangers these involved.
  2. (countable) Obscene, lewd or abusive language.
    He ran up and down the street screaming profanities like a madman.
    • 2013 June 14, Sam Leith, “Where the profound meets the profane”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 1, page 37:
      Swearing doesn't just mean what we now understand by "dirty words". It is entwined, in social and linguistic history, with the other sort of swearing: vows and oaths. Consider for a moment the origins of almost any word we have for bad language – "profanity", "curses", "oaths" and "swearing" itself.

Derived terms[edit]