in·​sou·​ci·​ance in-ˈsü-sē-ən(t)s How to pronounce insouciance (audio) aⁿ-süs-ˈyäⁿs How to pronounce insouciance (audio)
: lighthearted unconcern : nonchalance
in-ˈsü-sē-ənt How to pronounce insouciance (audio)
insouciantly adverb

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Don't worry; be insouciant. Perhaps your mind will rest easier if we explain that English speakers learned insouciance (as well as the adjective insouciant) from the French around the early 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 on to something. 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 Her insouciance seems to at once irk and fascinate the rest of the cast. Time, 21 Aug. 2023 Mason Hereford’s restaurants, by contrast, stand out for their insouciance. Brett Anderson, New York Times, 16 Oct. 2023 Watch the Full 2023 Met Gala Red Carpet Livestream A casual take on the bon ton attire that usually collects around these kinds of events, the look compounded the insouciance of Watson’s Wimbledon outfits: the sleeveless button ups and sculptural Loewe heels, and the Oscar de la Renta minidresses. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 6 Sep. 2023 But Heart of Stone is quite glossy and beautiful to look at, and though there’s not much that’s dynamic about her, Gadot at least has a charming insouciance. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 11 Aug. 2023 Entertainment & Arts How Stephen Sondheim changed theater forever — one musical masterpiece at a time Nov. 26, 2021 LuPone can sing with Puccini-esque flair, drawing out vocal color with an Impressionist’s insouciance. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2023 Jocelyn’s skinny, mile-long cigarettes seem more like a tribute to that kind of European insouciance than to anything conventionally American. Lindsay Zoladz, New York Times, 30 June 2023 Later, as Adonis sets off on the hunt, two flutes and a piccolo evoke his fatal insouciance, issuing birdlike high harmonics and an Aeolian whistling that is produced by blowing directly into the instrument. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 12 June 2023 Luckily for carmakers, injecting insouciance into a people hauler seems to require nothing more than adding some degree of declination between the B-pillar and rear fascia. Jonathon Ramsey, Car and Driver, 12 July 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'insouciance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1799, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of insouciance was in 1799


Dictionary Entries Near insouciance

Cite this Entry

“Insouciance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​sou·​ci·​ance in-ˈsü-sē-ən(t)s How to pronounce insouciance (audio)
: a lighthearted lack of concern
insouciant adjective

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