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Allegory of Chastity (1475) by Hans Memling
Allegory of Chastity (1475) by Hans Memling

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In general use, lascivious is synonymous with lustful or lewd. Synonyms include wanton, lewd, lustful and lecherous.


From lascivus, a term derived from Proto-Indo-European *las- (“eager”) +‎ -īvus. Cognate with lush and lazy.

Lascivus is Latin for:

  1. wanton, playful, frisky
  2. lustful, licentious, lascivious, lewd
  3. luxuriant

Legal usage

In American legal jargon, lascivious is a semi-technical term indicating immoral sexual thoughts or actions. It is often used in the legal description of criminal acts in which some sort of sexual activity is prohibited to differentiate that activity from innocent conduct. It is often used as one of several adjectives to describe pornography as compared to non-pornographic depictions of sex or sexual themes.

In US law consider for example prohibition of mailing lascivious matter:

"Every obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device, or substance...[i]s declared to be nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or by any letter carrier.".

"Lascivious" is not limited to pornography, however. For example,"lascivious cohabitation" refers to a mostly archaic crime of living with a member of the opposite sex, and having sexual intercourse with him or her without first entering a legal or religious marriage.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lascivious" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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