in·​sou·​ci·​ance | \ in-ˈsü-sē-ən(t)s How to pronounce insouciance (audio) , aⁿ-süs-ˈyäⁿs How to pronounce insouciance (audio) \

Definition of insouciance

: lighthearted unconcern : nonchalance

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Other Words from insouciance

insouciant \ in-​ˈsü-​sē-​ənt How to pronounce insouciant (audio) , aⁿ-​süs-​ˈyäⁿ \ adjective
insouciantly \ in-​ˈsü-​sē-​ənt-​lē How to pronounce insouciantly (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

Don't worry - be insouciant. Perhaps your mind will rest easier if we explain that English speakers learned "insouciance" from the French in the 1700s (and the adjective "insouciant" has been part of our language since the 1800s). The French word comes from a combination of the negative prefix in- and soucier, meaning "to trouble or disturb." "Soucier" in turn traces to "sollicitus," the Latin word for "anxious." If it seems to you that "sollicitus" looks a lot like some other English words you've seen, you're right. That root also gave us "solicit" (which now means "to entreat" but which was once used to mean "to fill with concern or anxiety"), "solicitude" (meaning "uneasiness of mind"), and "solicitous" ("showing or expressing concern").

Examples of insouciance in a Sentence

wandered into the meeting with complete insouciance to the fact that she was late
Recent Examples on the Web But the hotel’s story has always been one of elegant insouciance (think F. Scott Fitzgerald, Caribbean-style). Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best New Hotels in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central & South America: 2020 Hot List," 5 May 2020 But what demands explanation is the inverse relationship between these personal terrors and his frequent insouciance about the real public threat in the first months of the crisis. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, "Vector in Chief," 29 Apr. 2020 Yet balancing insouciance and seriousness proved a challenge, too, even for a master of disparity like Calder. Rachel Corbett, The Atlantic, "Art in Motion," 12 Apr. 2020 Lawson’s insouciance differentiates her from the bunch; her domesticity, depicted in her TV series with the kids in their school uniforms, has a shine of accessible truth. Alicia Kennedy,, "How I Learned To Become A Domestic Goddess," 16 Apr. 2020 The mix of warning and reassurance from the president perhaps bolstered Parisian insouciance, and was clearly not dead by Sunday. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, "A Lockdown, Paris-Style: ‘We Can’t Live Without Bread’," 15 Mar. 2020 James, as she was then known -- her agency at the time also represented model Jaime Rishar and decided to change King’s name to avoid confusion -- had all the youthful insouciance post-grunge designers were looking for. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Flashback: Jaime King’s Greatest Runway Moments," 26 Apr. 2019 Designers of hotel spaces have traditionally tended to favor either theatrical flair (baroque finishes and opulent flourishes) or the opposite: a low-key insouciance consisting of neutral, contemporary furniture and acres of beige-ness. Washington Post, "Hotel design trends: Lobbies and rooms with a point of view," 29 Jan. 2020 There are purebreds and mutts and a silky show dog, Nutmeg, voiced with husky insouciance by, naturally, Scarlett Johansson. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Review: Wes Anderson’s Bleakly Beautiful ‘Isle of Dogs’," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'insouciance.' 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 insouciance

1799, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for insouciance

French, from in- + soucier to trouble, disturb, from Old French, from Latin sollicitare — more at solicit

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Time Traveler for insouciance

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The first known use of insouciance was in 1799

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Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Insouciance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for insouciance


How to pronounce insouciance (audio) How to pronounce insouciance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of insouciance

formal : a relaxed and calm state : a feeling of not worrying about anything

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with insouciance

Nglish: Translation of insouciance for Spanish Speakers

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