en·​nui | \ ˌän-ˈwē How to pronounce ennui (audio) \

Definition of ennui

: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom

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The French loanword ennui comes from the very same Late Latin word that gave us annoyinodiare ("to make loathsome"). We borrowed ennui several centuries after absorbing annoy into the language. Ennui deals more with boredom than irritation - and a somewhat specific sort of boredom at that. It generally refers to the feeling of jadedness that can result from living a life of too much ease. The poet Charles Lloyd described it well in his 1823 Stanzas to Ennui when he referred to that world-weary sensation as a "soul-destroying fiend" which visits with its "pale unrest / The chambers of the human breast / Where too much happiness hath fixed its home."

Examples of ennui in a Sentence

When the antiproton was discovered … it sent a wave of ennui through the physics community. Not that its discovery was unimportant, but on the basis of Dirac's theory, everybody expected it. — Roger G. Newton, The Truth of Science, 1997 Chauncey and I were keen enough about our aesthetic solution to the ennui of war to try to proselytize others. He organized discussion groups with the crew; I took volunteers to visit landmarks … — Louis Auchincloss, "Atlantic War," in Authors at Sea, ed. Robert Shenk1997 The attendant outside was standing on tennis balls, exercising the soles of her feet, her body swaying back and forth with the ennui of jelly. — Edna O'Brien, New Yorker, 17 June 1991 Thus the days of life are consumed, one by one, without an object beyond the present moment; ever flying from the ennui of that, yet carrying it with us … — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter dated 7 Feb. 1787 Thomas Jefferson: Writings1984 the kind of ennui that comes from having too much time on one's hands and too little will to find something productive to do
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Recent Examples on the Web One of the biggest factors of turnover is monotony, which can lead to employee ennui, stagnancy, and dissatisfaction. Kara Dennison, Forbes, 10 June 2021 The doctor suspected ennui, which in some cases can turn into weltschmerz. Star Tribune, 16 May 2021 For Gazzale, the feelings of ennui regarding this year’s Oscars, and the attendant alarm over what might be the end of cinema as many of us know it, is overstated, albeit understandable. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2021 By contrast, a strong current of idyllic female solidarity runs beneath Chemtrails’ ennui. Claire Shaffer, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2021 But just because everyone has to do it doesn’t remove the stress, frustration, the everyday ennui of hockey, hockey, hockey … and hotel. BostonGlobe.com, 24 Apr. 2021 The 20th-century novel is enchanted by ennui and seduced by alienation, perpetually fascinated by the stultifying, dehumanizing effects of modern life. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021 Hutch feels like a nonentity in his own life, beaten down by the ennui of routine; cowed by his own reluctance to violently engage a few burglars, which garners ridicule from his family, friends and the beat cop who takes his statement. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 25 Mar. 2021 His work is full of ennui, uncertainty, uneventfulness. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, 17 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ennui.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ennui

1732, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ennui

French, from Old French enui annoyance, from enuier to vex, from Late Latin inodiare to make loathsome — more at annoy

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Last Updated

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ennui.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for ennui



English Language Learners Definition of ennui

: a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest

More from Merriam-Webster on ennui

Nglish: Translation of ennui for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ennui for Arabic Speakers


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