I'm writing a story in which the POV character is talking about a guilty pleasure / vice, and want to indicate this. Something like, "talking about it made me feel _____". Is there a word or phrase I can use here? (I have in mind pretty much exactly the sort of things as in this question, but where that asks for a word/phrase to describe the thing itself, I'm looking to describe the associated feeling. I guess I'm looking for an alternative to "it felt like a guilty pleasure".)

  • Not "bittersweet"; the character's 'negative' feelings aren't to the thing itself, but rather related to admitting that (s)he likes the thing.
  • Not "rebellious"; that has a more positive connotation, whereas I'm looking more for "guilty" or "embarrassed".
  • Not "titillated", precisely, as that doesn't convey the entire feeling, but maybe an adjective modifying "titillated"? ("Perversely"?)
  • "Kinky" comes darned close, except I'd really prefer to avoid erotic overtones.

Edit: to clarify, I'm thinking of the sort of guilty pleasure that won't get the POV character in trouble, but would result in dirty looks if not outright teasing (or maybe worse). An analogy would be a member of high society that enjoys something that's both inappropriate to their social position (but would be normal for someone "lower class") and also something not usually considered enjoyable.


1 Answer 1


Perhaps indulgent, meaning

allowing someone to have or do what they want, especially when this is not good for them

or possibly decadent, which is

If you say that a person or society is decadent, you think that they have low moral standards and are interested mainly in pleasure.

EDIT: In response to your edit, especially due to the mention of class, I think vulgar could be considered appropriate.

not appropriate, simple, dignified or beautiful; not in the style preferred by the upper classes of society

  • 1
    So... I ended up going with "timorously thrilled"... but also "vulgar", because that's just brilliant. Thanks!
    – Matthew
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 3:16

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