\ i-ˈnān How to pronounce inane (audio) \
inaner; inanest

Definition of inane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : lacking significance, meaning, or point : silly inane comments



Definition of inane (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from inane


inanely adverb
inaneness \ i-​ˈnān-​nəs How to pronounce inane (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for inane

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

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.

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: Adjective Children became obsessed with the infectious song — a development that tormented many parents who were forced to listen to the inane tune and nonsensical lyrics over and over. Washington Post, 5 Nov. 2021 Amid the praise, there were, of course, inane underestimations of Ratajkowski’s intelligence. Jordan Taliha Mcdonald, Vulture, 9 Nov. 2021 To create a furor over the innocent use of pronouns is inane., 29 Oct. 2021 Frank repeatedly shouted down the playoff music in an increasingly rude manner, awkwardly overstaying his welcome on stage for an inane speech that had little to say. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 20 Sep. 2021 Ken Jeong mugging his way through some inane prop comedy before announcing the Variety Sketch Series award? Kristen Baldwin,, 20 Sep. 2021 The dialogue that accompanies this act is just as inane, and not worth repeating here. Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2021 The department’s case served to show only how a serious person, Trump appointee Makan Delrahim, can be reduced to saying inane things under the bureaucratic compulsions that drive antitrust today. WSJ, 27 Aug. 2021 Which explains why the alternately charming and inane Cooking With Paris makes for such an uncanny viewing experience. Judy Berman, Time, 4 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Not until Page 672 does Obama mention him by name, in a passage on the inane 2011 controversy over his birthplace. Dallas News, 18 Nov. 2020 Not until page 672 does Obama mention him by name, in a passage on the inane 2011 controversy over his birthplace. Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2020 How did Emily manage to quadruple her Instagram following in a few days with such inane, cliched posts? Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2020 The parts that fell the flattest were holdovers from traditional awards shows, like inane banter between presenters. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 21 Sep. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of inane


1662, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inane

Adjective and Noun

Latin inanis

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Statistics for inane

Last Updated

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for inane



English Language Learners Definition of inane

: very silly or stupid


\ i-ˈnān How to pronounce inane (audio) \

Kids Definition of inane

: silly and pointless inane remarks

More from Merriam-Webster on inane

Nglish: Translation of inane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inane for Arabic Speakers


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