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 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 As Stewart plays it, Norah’s charismatic, deadpan insouciance feeds her bravery. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Kristen Stewart Floats Above the Deep-Sea Dumbness of Underwater," 9 Jan. 2020 Yet despite Mao’s insouciance, China did not follow America and Russia into the arms race that saw them pile up 60,000 nuclear weapons in the three decades after that speech. The Economist, "China’s nuclear arsenal was strikingly modest, but that is changing," 21 Nov. 2019 Over 18 tracks, Koenig and company work through the sophistication that defeats us, experimenting with assorted song styles — plus high-information worldliness — without losing the insouciance of their eponymous 2007 debut. Armond White, National Review, "Vampire Weekend Makes the Best Pop-Political Album of the Year," 10 Dec. 2019 But here, their empathetic teamwork lacks the bawdy insouciance of the Dolemite films and the Moore-Reed comedy albums. Armond White, National Review, "Dolemite Is My Name Honors a Surprising Cultural Pioneer," 8 Nov. 2019 The insouciance of regional governments, especially Brazil’s, puts them on a collision course with the church. The Economist, "Power in the Catholic church is shifting south and exposing divisions," 24 Oct. 2019 At the play’s center is Pharus, a gay student at the Charles R. Drew Preparatory School for Boys, who is played by Isaiah Reynolds with a blend of insouciance and vulnerability., "CHOIR BOY," 18 Sep. 2019

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

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Insouciance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on insouciance

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with insouciance

Nglish: Translation of insouciance for Spanish Speakers

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