Definition of Saturnalia in English:


Line breaks: Sat¦ur|na¦lia
Pronunciation: /ˌsatəˈneɪlɪə


[treated as singular or plural]
  • 1The ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, a period of general merrymaking and the predecessor of Christmas.
    More 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 or indulgence: a saturnalia of shopping
    More 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.



More 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.

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