Definition of Saturnalia in English:

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Pronunciation: /satərˈnālyə/


[treated as singular or plural]
1The ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, which was a period of general merrymaking and was the predecessor of Christmas.
Example sentences
  • Their essence is caught in Barber's notion of a saturnalian pattern, Saturnalia having been the Roman festival during which normal social hierarchy was inverted and masters waited on their servants.
  • Chapter six presents many of Nero's more outrageous and extravagant actions as extensions and exaggerations of the festival of the Saturnalia as a time for jokes, merry-making, and the overthrowing of social conventions.
  • Christmas actually evolved from the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, which in turn came from an ancient Mithran holiday celebrating his birth.
1.1 (saturnalia) An occasion of wild revelry.
Example sentences
  • Even the counterculture and college saturnalias of the late 1960s did not corrupt my habits.
  • The streets erupt in a saturnalia of lawlessness, to which the director adds an inspired touch: an escaped elephant from Barnum's circus trumpeting down the rubble-strewn streets.
  • His first year there coincided with the saturnalia of the Restoration as Charles II arrived in England with his mistress Barbara Villiers, the future Duchess of Cleveland.



Pronunciation: /ˌsadərˈnālēən/
Example sentences
  • Barron Field, writing a poem about the kangaroo in 1819, could only imagine that the beast was pieced together ‘on Creation's holiday ’, a saturnalian respite after the hard work of shaping the northern hemisphere was done.
  • So, come the dark third week of December, he and my wife and her brother and I left behind the saturnalian excesses of a Protestant Christmas and headed south.
  • As a result, the authorities took steps to curb saturnalian excess.


Latin, literally 'matters relating to Saturn', neuter plural of Saturnalis.

Words that rhyme with Saturnalia

Australia, azalea, bacchanalia, Castalia, dahlia, echolalia, genitalia, inter alia, Lupercalia, Mahalia, marginalia, paraphernalia, regalia, Thalia, Westphalia

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Sat·ur·na·li·a

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