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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"scopophilia," 1913, from voyeur + -ism.


n. 1 The derivation of sexual satisfaction by watching people secretly, especially when those being watched are undressed or engaging in sexual activity. 2 (context by extension English) The derivation of satisfaction by obsessively watching or following sensational or sordid subjects.


n. perversion in which a person receives sexual gratification from seeing the genitalia of others or witnessing others' sexual behavior


Voyeurism is the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other actions usually considered to be of a private nature.

The voyeur does not normally interact directly with the subject of his/her interest, who is often unaware of being observed. The essence of voyeurism is the observing but may also involve the making of a secret photograph or video of the subject during an intimate activity.

The term comes from the French voir which means "to see". A male voyeur is commonly labeled as "Peeping Tom", a term which originates from the Lady Godiva legend. However, that term is usually applied to a male who observes somebody secretly and, generally, not in a public place.

Usage examples of "voyeurism".

Something else that Kim tapped into is the thrill of exhibitionism and voyeurism, which figure dominantly in more than 80 percent of sexual fantasies.

But the pale, wan Martian thing which parallels tumultuous human sexuality gave him no foundation for grokking either narcissism or voyeurism, modesty or display.

To put it in highbrow for you: mass voyeurism is a typical consequence of the cybernetic revolution, and you aren't going to curb it by invoking prerevolution methods.