\ 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

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

In this way, Jodie may become to Gen Z what Daria was for so many Gen X-ers: An emblem of sanity, humor, and clear thinking in an often-inane environment. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "A spinoff of MTV’s “Daria” will take on the Gen Z experience of working in tech," 17 June 2019 That gave us an inane skit in a toilet stall but cut off articulate and moving speeches that gave a hint of the struggle amid the joy of the spotlight., "Feedback: After the Tonys, readers want to know — are awards shows broken?," 15 June 2019 No degree of minimalist aesthetic merits such inane, impractical storage, in my humble opinion. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "The Fascinating Reason Bobby Berk Stores Books This Way on Queer Eye," 9 May 2019 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

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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Statistics for inane

Last Updated

27 Jun 2019

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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 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

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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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