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
Recent Examples on the Web Most up-tempo Bleachers numbers are straightforward rock songs—four or five chords, a shout-along refrain, maybe a saxophone solo—about love and loss, ennui and transcendence, and, more often than not, New Jersey, where Antonoff grew up. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 Similar to dating apps like the League, Raya wards off the ennui of endless scrolling by limiting the number of profiles users can check out each day. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 15 Oct. 2021 But her ennui shouldn’t be mistaken for blandness or meekness. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 June 2022 Never mind that the project is just a rich man’s folly, something that an 80-year-old millionaire decided to do in a bout of post-birthday ennui. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 16 June 2022 As weeks turn into months, a kind of ennui advects Rose’s life like fog through a field — a slow transition that DP Hélène Louvart expertly maneuvers. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 May 2022 Playing Jerry, Cranston’s retirement ennui is relatable and touching. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2022 There will be no simple solutions to America’s kid-vaccine ennui. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 9 June 2022 But that wouldn’t solve my ice-cream-versus-ennui problem. Los Angeles Times, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ennui.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui. Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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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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