Hedonism is a school of thought that emphasizes pleasure and happiness as the primary or most important goals in life.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



pleasure-seeking, self-indulgence, indulgence, sensuality, epicureanism, sybaritism, gratification, enjoyment, voluptuousness, self-gratification.


Asceticism, abnegation, self-discipline, austerity, self-denial, self-control, restraint, frugality, moderation.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun hedonists, hedonisms, hedonism, hedonist
Verb None
Adjective hedonistic, hedonic
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The Greek philosopher Epicurus founded a hedonistic school of philosophy that emphasized the pursuit of pleasure as the ultimate goal of life.

  • Many people believe that capitalism is a system that promotes hedonism and materialism, to the detriment of spiritual and ethical values.

  • Critics of contemporary society often accuse individuals in developed countries of embracing a hedonistic lifestyle that is focused on personal pleasure and immediate gratification.

  • Some people seek to balance their self-interest with a sense of community and social responsibility, rejecting the pursuit of pleasure and hedonism as a guiding principle.


Hedonism is a word often used in discussions about philosophy, ethics, and lifestyle choices. The word has its origin in the Greek term “hedonē” which means pleasure, enjoyment or delight. The suffix -ism denotes a philosophical or ideological movement, so hedonism refers to a doctrine or concept that emphasizes pleasure and happiness as the primary goals of life. The concept of hedonism has been traced back to ancient Greek and Roman times, but it remains relevant in contemporary debates about individualism, consumerism, and morality.

As a philosophical or ethical concept, hedonism can be applied to various fields. For example, in aesthetics or art appreciation, hedonism refers to the idea that pleasure is the ultimate aim of art or artistic experience. In psychology or behavioral sciences, hedonism is often associated with the concept of reward or reinforcement. In economics, hedonism is sometimes used to describe the desire for tangible or intangible goods and services that provide pleasure or satisfaction.

Hedonism also has some related words or variations that share its root or prefix. For instance, “hedonophobia” refers to an excessive or irrational fear of pleasure or enjoyment, whereas “hedonometry” describes the measurement or quantification of pleasure or pain. The prefix “hedo-” can also be found in words such as “hedonistic” (related to or characterized by hedonism) and “hedonocracy” (a form of government where pleasure is the supreme goal).

Like many philosophical concepts, hedonism has its merits and critiques. Some argue that excessive hedonism can lead to negative consequences such as addiction, selfishness, or moral degeneration. Others point out that a moderate pursuit of pleasure can contribute to happiness, mental health, and social well-being. As with many words and concepts, hedonism’s use depends on context and perspective.