list·​less ˈlist-ləs How to pronounce listless (audio)
: characterized by lack of interest, energy, or spirit
a listless melancholy attitude
listlessly adverb
listlessness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for listless

languid, languorous, lackadaisical, listless, spiritless mean lacking energy or enthusiasm.

languid refers to an unwillingness or inability to exert oneself due to fatigue or physical weakness.

was depressed and languid for weeks after surgery

languorous suggests a dreamy boredom and delicacy that avoids unnecessary activity.

languorous cats lying in the sun

lackadaisical implies a carefree indifference marked by half-hearted efforts.

lackadaisical college seniors pretending to study

listless suggests a lack of interest caused by physical weakness or dissatisfied boredom.

listless hospital patients
listless children flipping through picture books on a rainy day

spiritless refers to a lack of animation or vigor that gives one's actions and words life.

a spiritless recital of the poem

Example Sentences

He became listless, answered in monosyllables, gurgled, drank a great deal of whisky, and looked with hateful eyes at everyone. Isaiah Berlin, New York Times Book Review, 12 Apr. 1987 She looked up and saw everyone starting his work. She took out a piece of paper, feeling listless and bored as she did. Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy, 1964 His blue eyes had lost their colour; they had a listless droop; and his mouth, losing the fulness of youth, was weak and pale. W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage, 1915 Her pretty face was wan and listless, her hair uncurled—some locks hanging lankly down, and some carelessly twisted round her head. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, 1847 The heat made everyone tired and listless. The party was a listless affair. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Prescott completed 25 of 33 passes for 305 yards and played turnover-free ball for the first time in eight games as the Cowboys (13-5) dominated the listless Bucs (8-10) in what may turn out to be Brady’s last game in a Tampa Bay uniform. Fred Goodall, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Jan. 2023 The Bengals are hoping their listless second half doesn’t spill over into next week. Mitch Stacy,, 8 Jan. 2023 The Lions had played like one of the best teams in the NFL since early November, beating playoff contenders each of the past three weeks, but were listless from the start Saturday. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, 24 Dec. 2022 The view was reinforced by the team’s photo opportunity with President Ebrahim Raisi days before its opening match against England, a listless 6-2 loss. Motez Bishara, CNN, 30 Nov. 2022 In a listless 8-3 loss to Los Angeles in the road finale Sunday, last-minute starter Tyson Miller allowed six first-inning runs and that was that. Dallas News, 2 Oct. 2022 One day, one of her four children — a baby at the time — felt very hot to the touch, and was listless. Leto Sapunar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Dec. 2022 The Eagles were listless for much of the game but managed to rebound from the defeat to the Commanders and improve their record to 9-1. Mark Maske, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Nov. 2022 The Cavs got off to a listless start without Mitchell. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 9 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English listles, from list entry 2

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of listless was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near listless

Cite this Entry

“Listless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


list·​less ˈlist-ləs How to pronounce listless (audio)
: too tired or too little interested to want to do things
listlessly adverb
listlessness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on listless

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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