in·​a·​ni·​tion | \ ˌi-nə-ˈni-shən How to pronounce inanition (audio) \

Definition of inanition

: the quality or state of being empty:
a : the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water
b : the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor

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Did You Know?

Inanition describes a state of suffering from either a literal emptiness (of sustenance) or a metaphorical emptiness (of interest or energy). So it will probably come as no surprise to you to learn that the word ultimately derives from the same idea in Latin. "Inanition," which first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century as "in-anisioun," can be traced back to the Latin verb inanire, meaning "to make empty," which in turn comes from "inanis" (meaning "empty" or "inane"). Incidentally, the English word inane was adopted in the mid-17th century directly from "inanis."

Examples of inanition in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web America, which is entertaining itself to inanition, has never experienced a scarcity of entertainment. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: Public broadcasting: superfluous yet seemingly immortal," 5 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inanition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of inanition

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Cite this Entry

“Inanition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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in·​a·​ni·​tion | \ ˌin-ə-ˈnish-ən How to pronounce inanition (audio) \

Medical Definition of inanition

: the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water

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