ennui

noun
en·​nui | \ˌän-ˈwē \

Definition of ennui 

: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

On the negative side, the vocabulary, over a long period, generates a certain ennui. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "San Francisco Ballet’s Limpid Sophistication Shines in ‘Unbound’," 27 Apr. 2018 But Sittenfeld doesn’t shy away from poking at the soft spots of a person’s psyche, the painful longings for something exquisite to cut through the ennui of even the most comfortable lives. Susan Dominus, New York Times, "The Heroines in Curtis Sittenfeld’s First Story Collection Are All Grown Up," 8 May 2018 Phillips’ cast reveals the personality conflicts, but not so much the wariness of any grind, and the sheer ennui that often comes from too much time spent around the same darn creative collaborators and the same darn neuroses. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "In '33 to Nothing' at A Red Orchid, a rock band hits the skids," 23 Apr. 2018 In previous centuries, those suffering from ailments and ennui could travel through forests and up glaciers, by train and horse, to drink and dip in therapeutic waters. New York Times, "In Search of Lost Time in Europe’s Sanatoriums," 18 Feb. 2018 In all, ideal conditions — ennui, randomness, neglect — for a cartoonist. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Cartoonist Carol Tyler recounts her Beatles-obsessed childhood in Chicago," 15 June 2018 Yet thanks to an eclectic score by David Yazbek and inspired direction by David Cromer, loneliness, ennui, and briefly forged connections make for a ravishing state of affairs. Christopher Wallenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Picks and predictions for the Tonys," 8 June 2018 The heartbreak-heavy D.C. hockey franchise, which launched in the haze of Nixon’s resignation in 1974, has won the Cup for the first time, ending decades of frustration and soul-searching ennui. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Champion Caps Shake Washington, D.C.," 8 June 2018 Still, then and now the colors on his palette were shaded more toward ennui than anguish. Houston Chronicle, "On Paul Simon, sad songs and being soft in the middle," 2 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ennui

Listen to Our Podcast about ennui

Dictionary Entries near ennui

ennoble

ennoblish

Enns

ennui

ennuyé

eno-

Enoch

Statistics for ennui

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ennui

The first known use of ennui was in 1732

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ennui

ennui

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ennui

: a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ennui

What made you want to look up ennui? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!