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

Definition of inane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


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

Definition of inane (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from inane


inanely adverb
inaneness \ i-​ˈnān-​nəs How to pronounce inaneness (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 This is so inane coming from someone of Weld’s stature as to be mind-boggling. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "No, Trump Is Not Facing the Death Penalty over Ukraine," 24 Sep. 2019 To be more current, Trump is proposing a $28 billion bailout to farmers in order to alleviate the burden of his inane, nonsensical tariff and trade war. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Vaping has hooked our teens; RINOs are the GOP’s only hope; Defending Harris’ plan; Did Trump violate the emolument clause? (9/18/19)," 18 Sep. 2019 So, where to begin, apart from saying that the entire plan, from basement to penthouse, is inane? Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "Newt Gingrich's Moon Sweepstakes Are a Confounding Development in Today's Space Race," 29 Aug. 2019 Good Times’ probably loses points for inane lyrics, but the old film footage of the band doing this song has rock screamer lead vocalist Stevie Wright doing a flying knee drop at the right time. Mike Oliver |, al, "Hi I’m Louie. Are you Lewy? A proposal for a Disney duck," 7 Sep. 2019 Shortly thereafter, the FBI began to attack the witnesses with perhaps the most inane disinformation ever—alleging the witnesses actually observed a private jet at 34,000 ft. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Debunking Myths About United Flight 93," 10 Sep. 2019 For its part, the Greenland government was understandably curt in its response: Because Mr. Art Of The Deal is the one floating at the center of this massively inane proposal, there is a bit of innate humor baked into the story. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Colonizers Have Turned Their Eyes to Greenland," 16 Aug. 2019 While scriptwriters Joseph Loeb III and Michael Rosenblatt have interlaced Teen Wolf with some mild teen identity questions regarding Fox and his self-image, the film is ultimately bland and inane. Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Teen Wolf': THR's 1985 Review," 23 Aug. 2019 These seemingly inane questions suffocated us and made the reality of our task feel like a knife in the heart. Washington Post, "My daughter’s excited to start driving. My feelings are complicated.," 17 July 2019

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 1


1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inane

Adjective and Noun

Latin inanis

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Time Traveler for inane

Time Traveler

The first known use of inane was in 1662

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Statistics for inane

Last Updated

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inane.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for inane


How to pronounce inane (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on inane

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inane

Spanish Central: Translation of inane

Nglish: Translation of inane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inane for Arabic Speakers

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