1

fainéant

noun fai·né·ant \ fā-nā-ˈäⁿ \

Definition of fainéant

plural fainéants play \fā-nā-ˈäⁿ(z)\
: an irresponsible idler

fainéant was our Word of the Day on 09/27/2014. Hear the podcast!

Origin and Etymology of fainéant

French, from Middle French fait-nient, literally, does nothing, by folk etymology from faignant, from present participle of faindre, feindre to feign


2

fainéant

adjective fai·né·ant \ fā-nā-ˈäⁿ \
variants: or faineant play \ˈfā-nē-ənt\

Definition of fainéant

: idle and ineffectual : indolent

Did You Know?

You've probably guessed that fainéant was borrowed from French; it derives from fait-nient, which literally means "does nothing," and ultimately traces back to the verb faindre, or feindre, meaning "to feign." (The English word feign is also descended from this verb, as are faint and feint.) Fainéant first appeared in print in the early 17th century as a noun meaning "an irresponsible idler," and by 1854 it was also being used as an adjective. As its foreignness suggests, fainéant tends to be used when the context calls for a fancier or more elegant word than inactive or sluggish.

First Known Use of fainéant

1854


Learn More about fainéant


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

of very fine texture or delicate form

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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!