ennui

noun
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 The core conflict in the film is that of creativity being stymied; Linklater is contemplating how one artistic crisis of confidence can bloom into total ennui. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette Is a Gripping Mess," 16 Aug. 2019 This is a movie about misery, which makes viewers feel every bit of the characters’ ennui. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Four very different horror films arrive in time for Halloween," 10 Oct. 2019 His laconic resentments of it invoke the precise strain of Gen-Xed ennui the novelist Douglas Coupland had described earlier in the decade: the mistrust of institutions, the mistrust of professions, the mistrust of meaning itself. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "On Chandler Bing’s Job," 12 Sep. 2019 Mash, played by a perfect Sara Young, radiating cool-girl ennui, is worshiped and adored by upbeat tutor Dev (JP Peralta). Andrea Simakis, cleveland.com, "Dobama Theatre opens 60th season with ‘Stupid (Bleeping) Bird,’ a meta fine sendup of Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’," 13 Sep. 2019 Despite the middling reviews and the guys’ growing ennui, every single thing the New Kids organization produced in 1990 turned into giant piles of money, thanks to the fanatical devotion of girls like me. Rebecca Schuman, Longreads, "I’ll Be Loving You Forever," 14 Aug. 2019 There’s plenty of virtue in planning a week’s menu in advance, but there’s no reason to endure that kind of gustatory ennui. Paul Stephen, ExpressNews.com, "The new meal prep: 6 dinners from 3 basic ingredients," 28 Aug. 2019 Signaling the character's louche-ness from his first entrance, which features simulated urination and a drunken snooze, Everett conveys scathing ennui with ease. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review," 31 July 2019 The French public's ennui amid a string of political scandals is famously unshakeable. Rachel Mosely, Town & Country, "The 1% Daily," 2 July 2014

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

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ennui.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for ennui

ennui

noun
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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