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

Keep scrolling for more

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, 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About inanition

Time Traveler for inanition

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About inanition

Dictionary Entries Near inanition

inanimate object



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for inanition

Cite this Entry

“Inanition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inanition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on inanition

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inanition


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!