1 of 2


inaner; inanest
: lacking significance, meaning, or point : silly
inane comments
inanely adverb
inaneness noun


2 of 2


: void or empty space
a voyage into the limitless inaneV. G. Childe

Did you know?

Can inane Be Used As a Noun?

Inane suggests emptiness in thought or meaning, and as a noun it has similar use, as in "thoughts making excursions into the incomprehensible inane" (the example is attributed to the 17th-century philosopher John Locke). The noun is not often used nowadays, but the adjective fills the void.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of inane in a Sentence

Adjective 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 Kauffmann, New Republic, 15 Mar. 2004
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 Dawidoff, New York Times Magazine, 4 Apr. 1999
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 Matalin, Newsweek, 25 Oct. 1993
I quickly tired of their inane comments. The film's plot is inane and full of clichés. Noun And thus likewise we sometimes speak of place, distance, or bulk in the great inane beyond the confines of the world. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689
Recent Examples on the Web
Sending those teams across the country for conference play is inane and unsustainable. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, 5 Apr. 2024 Filmed in his home state of New Jersey, the hour explores his emotions through anecdotes that cover both contemporary politics and inane personal dramas. Alex Jhamb Burns, Vogue, 22 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for inane 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inane.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

Latin inanis

First Known Use


1662, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1677, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inane was in 1662


Cite this Entry

“Inane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: lacking meaning or point : silly
inane remarks about the weather
inanely adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on inane

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!