fat·​u·​ous ˈfa-chü-əs How to pronounce fatuous (audio)
: complacently or inanely foolish : silly
a fatuous remark
a fatuous socialite with a near-pathological love of parties and shoppingJanet Maslin
fatuously adverb
fatuousness noun

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."

Did you know?

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

the fatuous questions that the audience members asked after the lecture suggested to the oceanographer that they had understood little ignoring the avalanche warnings, the fatuous skiers continued on their way down the trail
Recent Examples on the Web Schwentke’s attempt to create a parable of the decline of the American empire seems mainly forced and fatuous. Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Feb. 2023 Principle aside, O’Dea’s stance toward Trump and refusal to embrace his fatuous election claims made good political sense. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2022 More fromArmond White Östlund begins Triangle of Sadness satirizing the fatuous world of fashion. Armond White, National Review, 26 Oct. 2022 Bush in order to scare people with his fatuous Hitler analogy, and the peace camp in order to scare people with the prospect of heavy losses. Christian Lorentzen, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 Director Angus MacLane follows orders like a toy soldier, repeating Toy Story’s fatuous tone in the way Buzz (now voiced by Chris Evans) accentuates the goofy hollow heroism. Armond White, National Review, 17 June 2022 His play, which might have been smashed by the insensitive or botched by the fatuous, has fallen into expert hands. Claudia Cassidy, Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2022 Her involvement personalizes developments that are otherwise divided in collective memory between arid art history and fatuous mythologizing. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 Un chant d’amour, a film the Moonlight generation knows nothing about but that Meise relates to for its individual morality — a lost idea in this era of fatuous political conformity. Armond White, National Review, 11 Mar. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin fatuus foolish

First Known Use

1633, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fatuous was in 1633


Dictionary Entries Near fatuous

Cite this Entry

“Fatuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fatuous. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


fat·​u·​ous ˈfach-(ə-)wəs How to pronounce fatuous (audio)
fatuously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on fatuous

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