from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.
  • n. Philosophy The ethical doctrine holding that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good.
  • n. Psychology The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The belief that pleasure or happiness is the highest good in life. Some hedonists, such as the Epicureans, have insisted that pleasure of the entire mind, not just pleasure of the senses, is the highest good.
  • n. A general devotion to the pursuit of pleasure.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The doctrine of the Hedonic sect; the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of ethical principle.
  • n. The ethical theory which finds the explanation and authority of duty in its tendency to give pleasure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The doctrine of Aristippus and the Cyrenaic school of Greek philosophers, that the pleasure of the moment is the only possible end, that one kind of pleasure is not to be preferred to another, and that a man should in the interest of pleasure govern his pleasures and not be governed by them; hence, that ethical doctrine which regards pleasure or happiness as the highest good.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of ethical principle
  • n. an ethical system that evaluates the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good


Greek hēdonē, pleasure; see swād- in Indo-European roots + -ism.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἡδονή (hēdonē, "pleasure") + -ism. (Eng. usg. 1856) (Wiktionary)



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