adjective fat·u·ous \ˈfa-chü-əs, -tyü-\

Definition of fatuous

  1. :  complacently or inanely foolish :  silly a fatuous remark a fatuous socialite with a near-pathological love of parties and shopping — Janet Maslin





fatuous was our Word of the Day on 09/19/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of fatuous in a sentence

  1. the fatuous questions that the audience members asked after the lecture suggested to the oceanographer that they had understood little

  2. ignoring the avalanche warnings, the fatuous skiers continued on their course

What is the origin of infatuated?

When we speak of someone being infatuated it very often is in relationship to that person having seemingly taken leave of his or her senses, especially in a romantic context (“he was so infatuated that he could not remember what day of the week it was”). This is fitting, as the word shares an origin with the word fatuous, which means complacently or inanely foolish. Both words come from the Latin fatuus (“foolish”), although fatuous is not often used in the romantic contexts in which we find infatuate. When used with a preposition infatuated is typically followed by with.

Did You Know?

I am two fools, I know, / For loving, and for saying so / In whining Poetry, wrote John Donne, simultaneously confessing to both infatuation and fatuousness. As any love-struck fool can attest, infatuation can make buffoons of the best of us. So it should come as no surprise that the words "fatuous" and "infatuation" derive from the same Latin root, fatuus, which means "foolish." Both terms have been part of English since the 17th century. "Infatuation" followed the earlier verb "infatuate," a "fatuus" descendant that once meant "to make foolish" but that now usually means "to inspire with a foolish love or admiration." "Fatuous" came directly from "fatuus." It's been used in English to describe the foolish and inane since at least 1633.

Origin and Etymology of fatuous

Latin fatuus foolish

First Known Use: 1633

Synonym Discussion of fatuous

simple, foolish, silly, fatuous, asinine mean actually or apparently deficient in intelligence. simple implies a degree of intelligence inadequate to cope with anything complex or involving mental effort considered people simple who had trouble with computers. foolish implies the character of being or seeming unable to use judgment, discretion, or good sense foolish stunts. silly suggests failure to act as a rational being especially by ridiculous behavior the silly antics of revelers. fatuous implies foolishness, inanity, and disregard of reality fatuous conspiracy theories. asinine suggests utter and contemptible failure to use normal rationality or perception an asinine plot.

FATUOUS Defined for English Language Learners


adjective fat·u·ous \ˈfa-chü-əs, -tyü-\

Definition of fatuous for English Language Learners

  • : foolish or stupid

Seen and Heard

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


contemplative of or relative to the past

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