Word of the Day


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the activity of watching TV for an extended period of time, e.g. several episodes of a series

Origin and usage

The word ‘binge’ first appeared in English in the mid-1800s to mean ‘to soak’. Around the time of World War I, the term ‘binge’ was used to refer to eating or drinking in excess. The term binge-watching can be traced back as far as 2003, but it didn’t come into common usage until around 2012.


Binge-watching refers to the now common practice of watching many episodes of a television show in a single sitting. The term has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of streaming entertainment services that tend to release entire TV series or seasons, usually without advertising interruptions.

As millions of people all over the world embrace the convenience of digital streaming and the instant gratification of binge-watching their favourite television series, researchers are beginning to look closely at how this new way of watching TV may impact overall health.

According to some scientists, people love binge-watching because it releases a natural chemical in the brain that makes them feel good. This chemical, called dopamine, is responsible for the feelings of happiness that come from doing something pleasant, like exercising or eating good food.

Watching hours upon hours of a beloved television show can also release dopamine, especially when those episodes can be viewed without interruption.

While many experts agree there’s nothing drastically wrong with binge-watching, they warn that binge-watching should be done in moderation to avoid any potentially negative side effects. Taking occasional breaks for physical activity and socializing are usually recommended.


“My maternal grandmother would sit, before binge-watching existed, and watch Poirot until the cows came home. You couldn’t pull her away from it.”
(Billy Howle)



View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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  • I have come across this entry by chance. I knew “a shopping binge” and I got interested. I found the article providing more information about “binge-watching” very interesting and this extended context is very helpful. I think it is a great feature of this dictionary. Good job Macmillan 🙂

  • I love Mcmillan, because they use simple but accurate English words and phrases to explain the words. In this multicultural and multilingual world of media hunters, we are always coming back again and again to English articles in our professional circles. Great job you’ve been doing.

  • I got the meaning of binge-watching right straight with the examples and simple definitions given in this dictionary to get the idea of what I was reading. Helpful.

  • Thanks for your comment, Hassan. That’s a useful expression. I’m not sure there is enough to say about ‘What are the chances?’ to merit a blog post, but it is certainly worth adding to the dictionary. We do already have the very similar phrase ‘What are the odds?

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