adjective \ i-ˈnān \
|Updated on: 27 Jun 2018

Definition of inane

inaner; inanest
2 : lacking significance, meaning, or point : silly
  • inane comments




play \i-ˈnān-nəs\ noun

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Examples of inane in a Sentence

  1. All around us swirls the battering of gargantuan films, Styrofoam epics with megatons of special effects, gleefully inane adolescent films, horror films that really are horrible. —Stanley KauffmannNew Republic15 Mar. 2004
  2. The surfeit of home runs is a sop to all the Philistines who require inane diversions like programmed races between electronic dots on the scoreboard to make it through a two-hit shutout. —Nicholas DawidoffNew York Times Magazine4 Apr. 1999
  3. Though feminist leaders are mostly aligned with those sentiments, they can't separate their quest for economic equity from the inane political correctness of their extremist sisters. —Mary MatalinNewsweek25 Oct. 1993
  4. I quickly tired of their inane comments.

  5. The film's plot is inane and full of clichés.

Recent Examples of inane from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of inane

Latin inanis

Synonym Discussion of inane

insipid, vapid, flat, jejune, banal, inane mean devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character. insipid implies a lack of sufficient taste or savor to please or interest.
    • an insipid romance with platitudes on every page
vapid suggests a lack of liveliness, force, or spirit.
    • an exciting story given a vapid treatment
flat applies to things that have lost their sparkle or zest.
    • although well-regarded in its day, the novel now seems flat
jejune suggests a lack of rewarding or satisfying substance.
    • a jejune and gassy speech
banal stresses the complete absence of freshness, novelty, or immediacy.
    • a banal tale of unrequited love
inane implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality.
    • an inane interpretation of the play



noun \ i-ˈnān \

Definition of inane

: void or empty space
  • a voyage into the limitless inane
  • —V. G. Childe

Examples of inane in a Sentence

  1. And thus likewise we sometimes speak of place, distance, or bulk in the great inane beyond the confines of the world. —John LockeAn Essay Concerning Human Understanding1689

Can inane Be Used As a Noun?

The adjective "inane" is now most commonly encountered as a synonym of "shallow" or "silly." But when this word first entered the English language in the early 17th century, it was used to mean "empty" or "insubstantial." It was this older sense that gave rise, in the latter half of the 17th century, to the noun "inane," which often serves as a poetic reference to the void of space ("the illimitable inane," "the limitless inane," "the incomprehensible inane"). This noun usage has not always been viewed in a favorable light. Samuel Johnson, in his Dictionary of the English Language (1755), says of "inane" that "it is used licentiously for a substantive," which in current English means that it is used as a noun without regard to the rules.

Origin and Etymology of inane

see 1inane

INANE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of inane for English Language Learners

  • : very silly or stupid

INANE Defined for Kids


adjective \ i-ˈnān \

Definition of inane for Students

: silly and pointless
  • inane remarks

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having an air of easy unconcern

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