in·​a·​ni·​tion ˌi-nə-ˈni-shən How to pronounce inanition (audio)
: the quality or state of being empty:
: the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water
: the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor

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 should come as no surprise 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"). Another far more common descendant of inanis is inane. The family resemblance is clear: inane is used describe things lacking significance or substance.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web America, which is entertaining itself to inanition, has never experienced a scarcity of entertainment. George Will, Twin Cities, 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.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inanition was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near inanition

Cite this Entry

“Inanition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


in·​a·​ni·​tion ˌin-ə-ˈnish-ən How to pronounce inanition (audio)
: the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water

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