Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural The ancient Roman seven-day festival of Saturn, which began on December 17.
  • noun plural A celebration marked by unrestrained revelry and often licentiousness; an orgy.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In Roman antiquity, the festival of Saturn, celebrated in the middle of December as a harvest-home observance. It was a period of feasting and mirthful license and enjoyment for all classes, extending even to the slaves.
  • Hence Any wild or noisy revelry; unconstrained, wild, and licentious reveling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun plural (Rom. Antiq.) The festival of Saturn, celebrated in December, originally during one day, but afterward during seven days, as a period of unrestrained license and merriment for all classes, extending even to the slaves.
  • noun plural Hence: A period or occasion of general license, in which the passions or vices have riotous indulgence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A period or occasion of general license, in which the passions or vices have riotous indulgence; a period of unrestrained revelry.

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

  • noun a wild gathering involving excessive drinking and promiscuity
  • noun an orgiastic festival in ancient Rome in honor of Saturn

Etymologies

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

[Latin Sāturnālia, from neuter pl. of Sāturnālis, Saturnian, from Sāturnus, Saturn; see Saturn.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin Sāturnālia, a festival of the winter solstice

Examples

  • We have to realize that not everyone observes Christmas as anything other than a "saturnalia" - a pagan festival.

    Archive 2006-12-03

  • We have to realize that not everyone observes Christmas as anything other than a "saturnalia" - a pagan festival.

    Archive 2006-12-01

  • We have to realize that not everyone observes Christmas as anything other than a "saturnalia" - a pagan festival.

    Our sad time.........

  • What makes his '' short history '' so compelling is how Inglis combines an eye for captivating detail (the actor David Garrick being forced to kneel by a '' jeering audience ''), the illuminating comparison (Sarah Bernhardt versus Lola Montez, Hitler versus Edward VIII), and the synoptic view ( ''A Very Short History of the Feelings' '), with the inspired fulmination:' 'The encouragement of spite, envy, and malice needs very little by way of context; the present treatment of celebrity is a kind of saturnalia, which is to say, a ritualised occasion for the display and indulgence of antisocial feeling.' '

    The Sydney Morning Herald News Headlines

  • After this there came all the bustle of packing and preparation for departure, and a kind of saturnalia prevailed at Hyde Lodge -- a saturnalia which terminated with the breaking-up ball: and who among the crowd of fair young dancers so bright as Charlotte Halliday, dressed in the schoolgirl's festal robes of cloud-like muslin, and with her white throat set off by a black ribbon and a gold locket?

    Birds of Prey

  • The holiday was originally "saturnalia" or "yule" depending on where you lived...

    CNN.com

  • The holiday was originally "saturnalia" or "yule" depending on where you lived...

    CNN.com

  • This was always a kind of saturnalia among the domestics, when they considered themselves at liberty, in some measure, to say and do what they pleased, for on this day their master was always observed to unbend and become exceedingly pleasant and jocose, sending the old gray-headed negroes on April-fool's errands for pigeons 'milk; not one of whom but allowed himself to be taken in, and humored his old master's jokes, as became a faithful and well disciplined dependent.

    Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete

  • The runaway success of 007 demanded that Fleming's saturnalia of sex, genocidal villains and Cold War spycraft be continued by a capable literary ventriloquist.

    You Only Live About 23 Times

  • The runaway success of 007 demanded that Fleming's saturnalia of sex, genocidal villains and Cold War spycraft be continued by a capable literary ventriloquist.

    You Only Live About 23 Times

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