Definition of naughty in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈnɔːti/

adjective (naughtier, naughtiest)

1(Especially of a child) badly behaved; disobedient: you’ve been a really naughty boy
More example sentences
  • Sometimes it's like being a school teacher with a multitude of naughty children to look after.
  • I wasn't a very naughty child generally, so this was quite out of character.
  • If your child is naughty, maybe it is the parents that are at fault.
2 informal Mildly rude or indecent, typically because related to sex: naughty goings-on
More example sentences
  • It was used to greatest effect when it makes the actors say rude or naughty things.
  • Explicit language makes a lot of us squirm because it's chock full of taboos: It's crude, it's naughty, it's raunchy, its real.
  • The lyrics to this very hummable song are extremely naughty, not smutty or crude, just enjoyably naughty.
indecent, risqué, rude, racy, ribald, bawdy, broad, spicy, suggestive, titillating, improper, indelicate, indecorous, off colour;
vulgar, dirty, filthy, smutty, crude, offensive, salacious, coarse, obscene, lewd, pornographic, X-rated
informal blue, raunchy
British informal fruity, near the knuckle, saucy
North American informal gamy
euphemistic adult
3 archaic Wicked.
Example sentences
  • The Future Bible Heroes' new album is in very real danger of being a good deed in a naughty world, as this interview suggests.
badly behaved, disobedient, bad, misbehaved, misbehaving, wayward, defiant, unruly, insubordinate, wilful, self-willed, delinquent, undisciplined, unmanageable, uncontrollable, ungovernable, unbiddable, disorderly, disruptive, mutinous, fractious, refractory, recalcitrant, errant, wild, wicked, obstreperous, difficult, troublesome, awkward, contrary, perverse, attention-seeking, exasperating, incorrigible;
bad-mannered, rude, impolite;
mischievous, full of mischief, playful, impish, roguish, puckish, rascally, prankish, tricksy
informal brattish, scampish
Scottish informal gallus
archaic contumacious


the naughty step

(also the naughty corner) British informal
A place where a child is sent after misbehaving in order to reflect on their actions: whenever I did something bad, my uncle would make me sit in the naughty corner
More example sentences
  • Kemal recently had to sit on the naughty step for putting a toilet brush into Roberto's cardboard box.
  • Parenting groups have taken issue with the suitability of the naughty step or "time out" method to discipline children.
  • The naughty step, is a place of reflection where the child realises they've done something wrong.
1.1A situation of public disgrace: the bosses of the unions found themselves on the naughty step
More example sentences
  • Oh, my, then the whole British internet has to go and sit on the naughty step.
  • In her monthly guide to subversive parenting, Jennie Bristow sends today's parenting fads and panics to the naughty step.
  • As a nation, we're heading for the naughty step.



Pronunciation: /ˈnɔːtɪli/
Example sentences
  • Drinking coffee at night still seems naughtily bohemian in this city, and there's an undercurrent of guilty complicity in the air.
  • ‘You're right,’ Aidan agreed and smiled rather naughtily.
  • Lynn winks naughtily at him, and Clark's smile broadens.


Pronunciation: /ˈnɔːtɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • She has the knack of bringing out the naughtiness in people…
  • There's an awful lot of rude words in it, a lot of swearing, a lot of naughtiness.
  • He had a very highly developed sense of humour and naughtiness.


Late Middle English: from naught + -y1. The earliest recorded sense was 'possessing nothing'; the sense 'wicked' also dates from late Middle English, and gave rise to the current senses.

  • Today naughty generally refers to children or animals that misbehave in a fairly harmless way, but until quite recently it was a stronger word meaning ‘wicked’ or ‘morally bad’, as in ‘An Oxe of mine being a naughty beast, through ye default of mine owne fence hath goared a Cow of your Worships’ (1592) or ‘'Tis a villanous Error of some naughty Men’ (1699). Naughty comes from the Old English word naught, ‘nothing’, and originally meant ‘possessing nothing, poor, needy’. The sense ‘mildly rude or indecent’, found in expressions such as ‘naughty bits’, dates from the mid 16th century.

Words that rhyme with naughty

forty, haughty, pianoforte, rorty, shorty, sortie, sporty, UB40, warty

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: naughty

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.