fainéant

noun
fai·​né·​ant | \ fā-nā-ˈäⁿ How to pronounce fainéant (audio) \
plural fainéants\ fā-​nā-​ˈäⁿ(z) How to pronounce fainéants (audio) \

Definition of fainéant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an irresponsible idler

fainéant

adjective
fai·​né·​ant | \ fā-nā-ˈäⁿ How to pronounce fainéant (audio) \
variants: or faineant \ ˈfā-​nē-​ənt How to pronounce faineant (audio) \

Definition of fainéant (Entry 2 of 2)

: idle and ineffectual : indolent

Did You Know?

Adjective

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

Noun

1619, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1854, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fainéant

Noun

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

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The first known use of fainéant was in 1619

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