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

Cranston has layered thick his white-man ennui, tapping into but also reinventing that Walter White–flavored despair in the persona of Howard Beale, a struggling news anchor at the end of his rope. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "A New Theatrical Adaptation of Network Is All About the Rage," 7 Dec. 2018 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

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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English Language Learners Definition of ennui

: a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest

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More from Merriam-Webster on ennui

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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