noun pl. naugh·ties
- Behaving disobediently or mischievously: a naughty child.
- Indecent; improper: a naughty wink.
- Archaic Wicked; immoral.
One that is naughty.
Origin: Middle English noughti, wicked
Origin: , from nought, nothing, evil
Origin: , from Old English nāwiht, nothing; see naught
Related Forms:Word History:
The word naughty
at one time was an all-purpose word similar to bad.
During the 16th century one could use naughty
to mean “unhealthy, unpleasant, bad (with respect to weather), vicious (of an animal), inferior, or bad in quality” (one could say “very naughtie figes” or “naughty corrupt water”). All of these senses have disappeared, however, and naughty
is now used mainly in contexts involving mischief or indecency. This recalls its early days in Middle English (with the form noughti
), when the word was restricted to the senses “evil, hostile, ineffectual, and needy.” Middle English noughti,
first recorded in the last quarter of the 14th century, was derived from nought,
which primarily meant “nothing” but was also used as a noun meaning “evil” and as an adjective meaning such things as “immoral, weak, useless.” Thus naughty,
in a sense, has risen from nothing, but its fortunes used to be better than they are at present.