fatigue

1 of 3

noun

fa·​tigue fə-ˈtēg How to pronounce fatigue (audio)
1
a
: labor
b
: manual or menial work (such as the cleaning up of a camp area) performed by military personnel
c
fatigues plural : the uniform or work clothing worn on fatigue and in the field
2
a
: weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress
We were overcome by fatigue after the long hike.
b
: the temporary loss of power to respond that is induced in a sensory receptor (see receptor sense a) or motor (see motor entry 2 sense 1) end organ by continued stimulation
c
: a state or attitude of indifference or apathy brought on by overexposure (as to a repeated series of similar events or appeals)
… a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton launched within days of Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration. Voter fatigue is just one drawback to the long campaigns, though.Martin Wisckol
Most of the Romney voters they visited were fairly chipper, but there is an air of election fatigue in a state where most television commercial breaks are dominated by attack ads and the phone rings off the hook with campaign calls.Daniel Malloy and Katie Leslie
Waning media coverage of a humanitarian crisis is usually a precursor to "donor fatigue," in which assistance from other nations fades.Christian Science Monitor
see also compassion fatigue
3
: the tendency of a material to break under repeated stress
metal fatigue

fatigue

2 of 3

verb

fatigued; fatiguing

transitive verb

1
: to weary with labor or exertion
2
: to induce a condition of fatigue in

intransitive verb

: to suffer fatigue

fatigue

3 of 3

adjective

1
: consisting of, done, or used in fatigue
fatigue detail
2
: belonging to fatigues
a fatigue cap

Did you know?

Why are uniforms called fatigues?

Fatigue is a basic part of today’s vocabulary, but, surprisingly, only dates back to the mid-17th century in English. It’s not used even a single time by Shakespeare or in the King James Bible. It came to English from French and ultimately derives from the Latin verb fatigare, meaning “to tire out” or “to exhaust.” An earlier direct borrowing into English from Latin, fatigate, was used in the 1500s before disappearing (it’s now labeled obsolete in our dictionaries). Fatigue entered English first as a noun, then the verb (“the work fatigues me”) and adjective (“a fatigue detail”) came along. The noun was used to mean both “the state of being tired” and “labor,” “effort,” or “trouble”—a sense that seems old-fashioned today. Early uses of fatigue meaning “effort” or “labor” often were in military contexts:

the fatigue of our long march

the fatigues of war

the fatigues of a long journey

they no longer have fatigue without pay

toil and fatigue

These senses led to two military-specific uses of fatigue. First, it came to mean “manual or menial work performed by military personnel,” and then, consequently, “the uniform or work clothing worn on fatigue detail and in the field.” This is how fatigues came to mean “uniform” in the military. When your job seems to be all work and no play, even your clothes are tired.

Choose the Right Synonym for fatigue

tire, weary, fatigue, exhaust, jade mean to make or become unable or unwilling to continue.

tire implies a draining of one's strength or patience.

the long ride tired us out

weary stresses tiring until one is unable to endure more of the same thing.

wearied of the constant arguing

fatigue suggests great lassitude from excessive strain or undue effort.

fatigued by the day's chores

exhaust implies complete draining of strength by hard exertion.

shoveling snow exhausted him

jade suggests the loss of all freshness and eagerness.

appetites jaded by overindulgence

Example Sentences

Noun We were overcome by fatigue after the long journey. The drug's side effects include headache and fatigue. soldiers wearing combat boots and fatigues The cracks in the engine were caused by metal fatigue. Verb the rescue workers pressed on, though their efforts to reach the miners had almost completely fatigued them
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Keith Brin, the Lake County Republican chair, said after voting in statewide and federal elections in November, there is voter fatigue. Steve Sadin, Chicago Tribune, 1 Feb. 2023 From the perspective of apparent order, the problem of trucking safety—the job ranks eighth on the list of occupational fatality rates—is driver fatigue. Gideon Lewis-kraus, The New Yorker, 31 Jan. 2023 One of the most common problems that occurs with postpartum health challenges amongst women is fatigue as a result of postpartum recovery. Dallas News, 18 Jan. 2023 The most dominating symptom of long COVID is fatigue and exercise intolerance, said Dr. Joseph Parrillo, professor of cardiology and medicine at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in New Jersey. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, 16 Dec. 2022 Its hallmark symptoms are fatigue, cough, chest pain or shortness of breath, muscle weakness, brain fog, palpitations, and anxiety or depression. Melissa Healystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 2022 But then again, the clumsiness could have been simple fatigue; Grief liked to carry on all night, making a terrible racket and keeping me awake. Kathy Flann, Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2022 One of the harder things has been decision fatigue. House Beautiful, 1 Dec. 2022 Among the most common symptoms patients report are fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and headaches. Gwynn Guilford And Lauren Weber, WSJ, 7 Nov. 2022
Verb
Our tester found that despite its power, the Greenworks Pro didn’t fatigue her arms or back, even when rolling the pressure washer around the yard. Gabriel Morgan, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Jan. 2023 Heavier binoculars are harder to use for longer periods of time, since your arms and shoulders do eventually fatigue and become shaky. Justin Park, Popular Mechanics, 11 Jan. 2023 On the offensive end, Warriors coach Steve Kerr suggested that trying to pick on Doncic in order to fatigue him is an option. Eric He, Dallas News, 18 May 2022 Exposure to sound at too high a volume can fatigue the sensory cells and structures in the ear, Dillard said. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 15 Nov. 2022 Avoid the urge to swing the weight when your forearms begin to fatigue. Jeff Tomko, Men's Health, 7 Dec. 2022 However, as the half went on the boys started to fatigue. Ray Reid, Hartford Courant, 29 Nov. 2022 Our tester found that despite its power, the Greenworks Pro didn’t fatigue their arms or back, even when rolling the pressure washer around the yard. Gabriel Morgan, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Nov. 2022 Between 16 million and 19 million Americans are suffering from long COVID-19, dealing with everything from a persistent loss of taste and smell to fatigue so disabling that people can’t work. cleveland, 24 Oct. 2022
Adjective
That’s why it’s often used as an anti-fatigue and energy-boosting agent. Dallas News, 30 Jan. 2023 Take this option, which has a shock-diffusing plate and an anti-fatigue footbed to provide hours-long comfort. Ebenezer Samuel, Men's Health, 13 Jan. 2023 While many anti-fatigue mats come in more subdued color palettes, The House of Noa shows us a different path. Good Housekeeping, 13 Jan. 2023 What makes this chair even more supportive is the addition of the anti-fatigue mat that’s attached. Kylee Mcguigan, Popular Mechanics, 12 Jan. 2023 As with the other fungi on this list, the polysaccharides within I. obliquus may offer a range of helpful properties, including antitumor, anti-fatigue, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. Molly Glick, Discover Magazine, 18 Mar. 2022 This anti-fatigue eye treatment from Tom Ford is top quality and looks sleek in its functional packaging. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Oct. 2022 An anti-fatigue mat provides a soft surface to stand on while working at a standing desk. Kat De Naoum, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Nov. 2022 This anti-fatigue eye treatment from Tom Ford is top quality and looks sleek in its functional packaging. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fatigue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

French, from Middle French, from fatiguer to fatigue, from Latin fatigare; akin to Latin affatim sufficiently

First Known Use

Noun

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1693, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adjective

1774, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fatigue was in 1669

Dictionary Entries Near fatigue

Cite this Entry

“Fatigue.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fatigue. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

fatigue

1 of 2 noun
fa·​tigue fə-ˈtēg How to pronounce fatigue (audio)
1
plural : the uniform worn by members of the armed forces for physical labor
2
a
: tiredness from work or stress
b
: the condition of a part of the body (as a sense organ or gland) that temporarily loses the power to respond after a long period of stimulation
3
: the tendency of a material (as metal) to break under repeated stress (as bending)

fatigue

2 of 2 verb
fatigued; fatiguing
1
: to cause to become very tired
pulling weeds fatigues me
2
: to cause a condition of fatigue in
running fatigues my legs

Medical Definition

fatigue

1 of 2 noun
fa·​tigue fə-ˈtēg How to pronounce fatigue (audio)
1
: weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress
2
: the temporary loss of power to respond induced in a sensory receptor or motor end organ by continued stimulation

fatigue

2 of 2 verb
fatigued; fatiguing

transitive verb

1
: to weary with labor or exertion
2
: to induce a condition of fatigue in (as an effector organ)

intransitive verb

: to be affected with fatigue : become weary

More from Merriam-Webster on fatigue

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