1. Having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners; indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners.
a. Lacking standards of selection; acting without careful judgment; indiscriminate: criticized him for being promiscuous in his friendships.
b. Showing little forethought or critical judgment; casual: the promiscuous use of the word "populism."
3. Consisting of diverse, unrelated parts or individuals; confused: "Throngs promiscuous strew the level green" (Alexander Pope).
4. Biology Having a variety of functions, targets, or hosts; nonselective: promiscuous enzymes; promiscuous drugs; a promiscuous parasite.
[From Latin prōmiscuus, possessed equally : prō-, intensive pref.; see PRO-1 + miscēre, to mix; see meik- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.