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

Definition of ennui

: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom

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Did You Know?

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 There’s the ennui of being romantically miserable at a picturesque wedding, then there’s the recursive nature of being in a relationship and settling into a routine, which Nyles and Sarah start to do as the days repeat. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Palm Springs Is the Comedy of the Summer," 10 July 2020 Long naps in the grass at the Buttes Chaumont park and Luxembourg Gardens have become remedies for our collective ennui. Lindsey Tramuta, Condé Nast Traveler, "As Paris Reopens, Residents Are Enjoying a City Without Tourists," 26 June 2020 When the Black Lives Matter protests began after in Minneapolis and statues were getting toppled across the country, they were jolted out of their pandemic ennui. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "Change the world? Two students start with their neighborhood and find it’s not so neighborly.," 15 June 2020 Millions of people exhibiting signs of depression now have to discern ennui from temporary grieving from a medical condition. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Is Everyone Depressed?," 22 May 2020 With production temporarily halted on so many films and television shows, casts and crews are getting creative about bringing new content to all the people fighting off ennui while sheltering in place. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Game devs hold virtual meeting from hell in Mythic Quest: Quarantine teaser," 15 May 2020 With Romans forced inside, their iconoclasm and ennui is stashed away; the feeling is one of public service and patriotic mission. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Rome Has Been Sacked, Conquered and Abandoned. Now It’s the Pandemic’s Turn.," 1 May 2020 At least white paint isn't silver, the shade of modern automotive ennui, and our car's Crystal White Metallic cost $645. Jared Gall, Car and Driver, "We Boot Up a 2020 Volvo S60 T8 Plug-In Hybrid for 40,000 Miles," 18 May 2020 Coronavirus stimulus checks begin to hit bank accounts April 11, 202001:39 The economic downturn has caused a lot of ennui, which may lead some people to think their finances don’t matter in the short or long-term. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "5 must-know tips before spending your stimulus check," 14 Apr. 2020

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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The first known use of ennui was in 1732

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ennui.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for ennui


How to pronounce ennui (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ennui

: a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest

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More from Merriam-Webster on ennui

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ennui

Spanish Central: Translation of ennui

Nglish: Translation of ennui for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ennui for Arabic Speakers

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