\i-ˈnān \
inaner; inanest

Definition of inane 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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


\i-ˈnān \

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 \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for inane

Synonyms: Adjective

empty, meaningless, pointless, senseless

Antonyms: Adjective

meaningful, significant

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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


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.


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

The format also leads to the kind bad optics that Republicans were trying to avoid: Grassley, who looks and sounds like white male privilege personified, constantly interrupting a woman for somewhat inane reasons. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The Christine Blasey Ford hearing isn’t about finding the truth. It’s just a cross-examination.," 27 Sep. 2018 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. 2018 Two years ago, debating points were all over the map, with the computer able to make one or two really brilliant statements and five or ten inane statements. Edward C. Baig And Ryan Suppe, USA TODAY, "IBM shows off an artificial intelligence that can debate a human and change some minds," 18 June 2018 But apparently the best Hollywood can do for legendary actresses who’ve had the temerity to grow older is an inane romantic comedy written at the level of a greeting card. Ty Burr,, "Stars — and audience — deserve better than ‘Book Club’," 17 May 2018 Jackie waits for his response, some inane joke, some way to break the tension of the moment. Chicago Tribune,, "Algren Award finalist: "Nothing Less Than 20,000 Watts" by Susan Finch," 2 June 2018 But the discussion of this uncertainty largely got lost in the inane questions about whether climate change and sea level rise are actually happening. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Clean air, water on voters’ agenda, but not Congress’," 18 May 2018 Sure, there were plenty of inane facts about the chapel's windows (looking at you, BBC) and an almost CSI-level analysis on CBS of the car ride that brought Meghan to the chapel. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: A royal, rousing and surprisingly relatable TV wedding," 19 May 2018 Last Wednesday, Danny Tarkanian and his wife and former Nevada GOP chair, Amy, sat down for a long, inane interview with local conservative radio host Kevin Wall to discuss the campaign, his policies and, of course, Kanye West. Jason Johnson, The Root, "Kanye West Invades the Nevada Congressional Race, and Now I’m Forced to Write About Him," 9 May 2018

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


Latin inanis


see inane entry 1

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Statistics for inane

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inane

The first known use of inane was in 1662

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More Definitions for inane



English Language Learners Definition of inane

: very silly or stupid


\i-ˈnān \

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

Comments on inane

What made you want to look up inane? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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