noun en·nui \ˌän-ˈwē\

Definition of ennui

  1. :  a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction :  boredom

ennui was our Word of the Day on 11/15/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of ennui in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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 Shenk, 1997

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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 of ennui from the web

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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."

Origin and Etymology of ennui

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

First Known Use: 1732

ENNUI Defined for English Language Learners


noun en·nui \ˌän-ˈwē\

Definition of ennui for English Language Learners

  • : a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest

Seen and Heard

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feeling or affected by lethargy

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