las·​si·​tude | \ ˈla-sə-ˌtüd How to pronounce lassitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Definition of lassitude

1 : a condition of weariness or debility : fatigue The patient complained of headache, nausea, and lassitude.
2 : a condition characterized by lack of interest, energy, or spirit : languor surrendered to an overpowering lassitude, an extreme desire to sit and dream— Alan Moorehead

Choose the Right Synonym for lassitude

lethargy, languor, lassitude, stupor, torpor mean physical or mental inertness. lethargy implies such drowsiness or aversion to activity as is induced by disease, injury, or drugs. months of lethargy followed my accident languor suggests inertia induced by an enervating climate or illness or love. languor induced by a tropical vacation lassitude stresses listlessness or indifference resulting from fatigue or poor health. a depression marked by lassitude stupor implies a deadening of the mind and senses by shock, narcotics, or intoxicants. lapsed into an alcoholic stupor torpor implies a state of suspended animation as of hibernating animals but may suggest merely extreme sluggishness. a once alert mind now in a torpor

Sick and Tired: The Literal and Figurative Meanings of Lassitude

Lassitude and weariness make an interesting pair. As with many nearly synonymous pairs of words in English, one is derived from Latin and the other from Old English. Even though they both mean “the condition of being tired,” they are used in different ways. Following a common pattern, the Latinate word tends to be used in technical, medical, and formal writing, and the Old English-derived word is used when referring to physical, emotional, and spiritual qualities.

Lassitude comes from the Latin word lassus, meaning “weary.” Our English spelling comes from the French word that developed directly from Latin, borrowed in the 15th century. In French, the word las (masculine) or lasse (feminine) means “weary” or “tired,” and the idiom être las de means “to be sick and tired of.” This led to another English word with the same root: alas, a word that expresses sadness or disappointment, but conveys some measure of fatigue and resignation as well.

Though it sometimes is just a fancy word for fatigue in medical contexts, lassitude is also used in ways that are metaphorical and closer in meaning to “negligence”:

Congress was being choked by pettiness and lassitude.

The case was delayed because of sheer lassitude.

The failure was the result of moral lassitude.

Examples of lassitude in a Sentence

Symptoms of the disease include paleness and lassitude. our lassitude was such that we couldn't even be bothered to get more soda from the fridge
Recent Examples on the Web In the lead-up to a big race, such lassitude can be compounded by a sudden severe case of germophobia, characterized by obsessive hand-washing, decreased displays of physical affection, and reluctance to take care of coughing toddlers. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 6 Oct. 2021 But the contrast between the strength of the preshow exhibition (all those video eyes, making contact) and the lassitude of the show itself highlights how much even our finest theater artists are struggling to choreograph an actorless space. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 28 July 2021 A quarter of Iran’s population is under the age of 14, close to half are under the age of 40, and almost all are struggling at a time of severe financial austerity and deep political lassitude toward their government, but also forces abroad. Tara Kangarlou, Time, 18 June 2021 The Ethics Committee cannot complete an investigation, or release to the public any details of an investigation, without Democratic and Republican support, which, in our era, helpfully explains its lassitude. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, 7 June 2021 Resistance begins to wane, and lassitude starts to set in. Luc-christophe Guillerm, Scientific American, 16 Apr. 2021 The movie is dogged by wobbly reasoning and dramaturgical lassitude, but at least one actor tries to spice it up. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 24 Mar. 2021 But this is a case where the infamous lassitude of the federal bureaucracy may work in America's favor. Tyler Cowen, Star Tribune, 15 Mar. 2021 Recently, President Donald Trump was ailing at Walter Reed hospital, both a victim and a symbol of his Administration’s lassitude and arrogance in the face of the pandemic. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lassitude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of lassitude

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lassitude

Middle English, from Latin lassitudo, from lassus weary; probably akin to Old English læt late — more at late

Learn More About lassitude

Time Traveler for lassitude

Time Traveler

The first known use of lassitude was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near lassitude




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for lassitude

Cite this Entry

“Lassitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for lassitude


las·​si·​tude | \ ˈlas-ə-ˌt(y)üd How to pronounce lassitude (audio) \

Medical Definition of lassitude

: a condition of weariness, debility, or fatigue a disease typically accompanied by chronic lassitude

More from Merriam-Webster on lassitude

Nglish: Translation of lassitude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lassitude for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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