1806, in reference to the Cyrenaic school of philosophy that deals with the ethics of pleasure; with -ist + Greek hēdone "pleasure, delight, enjoyment; a pleasure, a delight," which is related to hēdys "sweet" and cognate with Latin suavis, from PIE *swad-ona, suffixed form of root *swad- "sweet, pleasant" (see sweet (adj.)). Meaning "one who regards pleasure as the chief goal of life" is from 1854. A hedonist is properly the follower of any ethical system in which some sort of pleasure ranks as the highest good. The Epicurean identifies this pleasure with the practice of virtue.
updated on October 29, 2018