Based on Oxford Dictionary indulgent means:

Having or indicating a readiness or over-readiness to be generous to or lenient with someone. ‘indulgent parents’

But it doesn't fit with the text below. Is it an irony?

So, Could you please tell me what the meaning of "indulgent" here?

A few days later Dad came home with the most frightening machine I’ve ever seen. He called it the Shear. At first glance it appeared to be a threeton pair of scissors, and this turned out to be exactly what it was. The blades were made of dense iron, twelve inches thick and five feet across. They cut not by sharpness but by force and mass. They bit down, their great jaws propelled by a heavy piston attached to a large iron wheel. The wheel was animated by a belt and motor, which meant that if something got caught in the machine, it would take anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute to stop the wheel and halt the blades. Up and down they roared, louder than a passing train as they chewed through iron as thick as a man’s arm. The iron wasn’t being cut so much as snapped. Sometimes it would buck, propelling whoever was holding it toward the dull, chomping blades. Dad had dreamed up many dangerous schemes over the years, but this was the first that really shocked me. Perhaps it was the obvious lethality of it, the certainty that a wrong move would cost a limb. Or maybe that it was utterly unnecessary. It was indulgent. Like a toy, if a toy could take your head off.

Educated by Sara Westover


1 Answer 1


The sense is that Dad had been self-indulgent, effectively buying himself a toy.

self-indulgent: characterized by doing or tending to do exactly what one wants, especially when this involves pleasure or idleness.

Often self-indulgence manifests as buying something for oneself and ignoring an excessive financial cost. In this case there seems to be an indifference to danger to other people. Pleasure at the expense of another persons danger.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .