\ 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

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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 It's denoted by 550T badging, according to Cadillac's relatively new and inane method of categorization by peak torque in newton-meters. Annie White, Car and Driver, "2020 Cadillac CT5 V-6 Gives Us Reason to Hope," 8 June 2020 The show not only provided a welcome reprieve from a tough day in the laboratory, but also fueled fun debates among us students as to whether the inane scenarios were plausible. Bill Sullivan, The Conversation, "Science of ‘Seinfeld’," 5 June 2020 Like much of Doremus’ work, Endings, Beginnings is largely improvised, but the inane dialogue is a testament to the benefit of working from a full script. Mary Sollosi,, "Endings, Beginnings," 17 Apr. 2020 Bizarre found footage on tour (Photo: Erik Ljung) Pranksters Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett spend most of their waking hours sorting through old VHS tapes in search of inane, embarrassing and downright bizarre video moments. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's Top 10: Found footage fest, Snoop Dogg, Novi Home Show, 'Sesame Street Live!'," 22 Jan. 2020 This is profoundly inane, but in a way calibrated to provide a perfect no-stakes distraction at this particular moment. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Let's Have the GIF Pronunciation Debate Forever," 25 Feb. 2020 Children’s entertainment is frequently inane, but JoJo rams a rod through a cultural nerve center. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Time, "'What Do People Want Me to Do? Wear Black Every Day?': How Child Star JoJo Siwa Built Her Sparkly Empire," 22 Aug. 2019 Wilson digs up what feels like every single snarky blog post, nasty hashtag and invasive, if also somewhat inane, red-carpet interview. Judy Berman, Time, "Taylor Swift: Miss Americana," 28 Jan. 2020 What used to feel like Sherman-Palladino trademarks now come across as tics: the barrage of inane chatter; the superficial stereotyping; the overreliance on spectacle without substance, like a dinner composed entirely of cake pops. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 7 Dec. 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 2


1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inane

Adjective and Noun

Latin inanis

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Time Traveler for inane

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The first known use of inane was in 1662

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Statistics for inane

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 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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Britannica English: Translation of inane for Arabic Speakers

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