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From French voluptuaire and directly from Latin voluptuarius[1], from voluptarius (devoted to pleasure), from voluptas (pleasure).



voluptuary (plural voluptuaries)

  1. One whose life is devoted to sensual appetites; a sensualist, a pleasure-seeker.
    • 1748, John Cleland, Fanny Hill, Letter the Second,[1]
      But Mrs. Cole, in opposition to this, assured me, "that the gentlemen I should be presented to were, by their rank and taste of things, infinitely superior to the being touched with any glare of dress or ornaments, such slick women rather confound and overlay than set off their beauty with; that these veteran voluptuaries knew better than not to hold them in the highest contempt []
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Chapter 2,[2]
      His features might have been called good, had there not lurked under the pent-house of his eye, that sly epicurean twinkle which indicates the cautious voluptuary.
    • 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Volume I, Chapter 15,[3]
      St. Clare, who was in heart a poetical voluptuary, smiled as Miss Ophelia made her remark on his premises []
    • 1983, Lawrence Durrell, Sebastian, Faber & Faber 2004 (Avignon Quintet), p. 1131-2:
      ‘I told you so!’ he said to himself under his breath, and breathing deeply like a voluptuary he advanced towards his victim.
    • 2005, Martin Torgoff, Can't Find My Way Home, Simon & Schuster 2005, p. 147:
      Dawn Reynolds was an eighteen-year-old alabaster beauty with cobalt eyes and the figure of a ripe voluptuary.



voluptuary (not comparable)

  1. Of or relating to the seeking of sensual pleasure.
    • 1605, Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, The Second Book, X.13, edited by G. W. Kitchin, London: Dent, 1915, p. 117,[4]
      For while it hath been well observed, that the arts which flourish in times while virtue is in growth, are military; and while virtue is in state, are liberal; and while virtue is in declination, are voluptuary; so I doubt that this age of the world is somewhat upon the decent of the wheel. With arts voluptuary I couple practices joculary; for the deceiving of the senses is one of the pleasures of the senses.
    • 1744, Cicero, Concerning the Ends of Things of Good and Evil, translated by William Guthrie, London: T. Waller, Book the Third, Chapter III, p. 149,[5]
      All these Perturbations may be comprehended under four general Heads, but admit of many Subdivisions. Their general Division is into Uneasiness, Fear, Lust, and that voluptuary Elevation of a wanton Spirit which I call Joy;
    • 1836, George Wingrove Cooke, Review of Memoirs of Lord Bolingbroke in The British and Foreign Review; or, European Quarterly Journal, Volume II, January—April 1836, No. III, pp. 231-232,[6]
      He takes infinite pains to persuade himself that God neither exerts any providence here, nor any retribution hereafter; and therefore the ambitious man may pursue power, and the voluptuary pleasure, to any excess, or in any form, without apprehending either any present compunction, or future punishment.
    • 1903, George Bernard Shaw, The Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion, Chapter 6,[7]
      When a great French writer, Emil Zola, alarmed at the sterilization of his nation, wrote an eloquent and powerful book to restore the prestige of parentage, it was at once assumed in England that a work of this character, with such a title as Fecundity, was too abominable to be translated, and that any attempt to deal with the relations of the sexes from any other than the voluptuary or romantic point of view must be sternly put down.
    • 1943, T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Faber, 1979, Little Gidding, I,
      If you came this way,
      Taking the route you would be likely to take
      From the place you would be likely to come from,
      If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
      White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ voluptuary” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.