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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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 This danceable song laid down a transient pop groove with an atmosphere redolent of ennui. Billboard Japan, Billboard, 6 May 2022 Meanwhile, Eve is back in London with a serious case of post-murder ennui. Kat Rosenfield, EW.com, 11 Apr. 2022 Such ennui in the face of labor is extremely relatable; if only all procrastination was so warmly forgiven. The New Yorker, 7 Apr. 2022 Not only had housing prices, homelessness, crime and general pandemic-ennui sapped collective morale, but the state’s population had taken a dive. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 2022 Furthermore, while rising atmospheric carbon from any source would be terrifying on its own, anthropogenic climate change—and the implied personal culpability—can stir up a potent cocktail of anxiety, anger, shame, and ennui. Eleanor Cummins, The New Republic, 28 Dec. 2021 But fans of the original might wonder if the adaptation’s wackier feel and perpetual high jinks betray its predecessor’s sense of despondency and ennui, and its awareness that sometimes the coolest guy in the room is also the loneliest. Roxana Hadadi, Vulture, 15 Nov. 2021 Bored teenagers dealing with the world at large may have more devices in-hand now, but that tumult of emotions and ennui remains the same. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 Heti has always been a different kind of writer than advertised: not the voice of a generation or a chronicler of postmodern ennui, but a humanist and a seeker. Adam Kirsch, The New Republic, 22 Mar. 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

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ennui.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of ennui for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ennui for Arabic Speakers

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