plural longueurs lȯŋ-ˈgərz How to pronounce longueur (audio)
: a dull and tedious portion (as of a book)
usually used in plural

Did you know?

You've probably come across long, tedious sections of books, plays, or musical works before, but perhaps you didn't know there was a word for them. English speakers began using the French borrowing longueur in the late 18th century. As in English, French longueurs are tedious passages, with longueur itself literally meaning "length." An early example of longueur used in an English text is from 18th-century writer Horace Walpole, who wrote in a letter, "Boswell's book is gossiping; . . . but there are woful longueurs, both about his hero and himself."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Like that Chopin ballade, a good routine has light and shade, fast sections and longueurs. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2020 This enthusiasm is a blessing for the longueurs to come, as one by one the cast spins out the inscrutable tale of the annual Jellicle Ball, when all the street cats of London convene to dance and sing. Daniel Drake, The New York Review of Books, 4 Jan. 2020 Sitting through the longueurs of Simon’s book shouldn’t have to be the penitential price for our enjoyment of the musical portion of the show. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, 23 June 2018 And even with its longueurs, the book is full of wonder. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, 18 Oct. 2017 Fortunately, the novel’s exciting ending helps to compensate for its longueurs. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 29 Sep. 2017 A lot of the material is thus delivered semi-impromptu, with all the stutters and longueurs that entails. Jesse Green, New York Times, 10 Aug. 2017 Running at about two and a half hours, An Octoroon retains The Octoroon's plot contrivances, and stretches that should resonate viscerally—including a stark reminder of real-life unspeakable evil—have dampened impact as a result of its longueurs. Dan Jakes, Chicago Reader, 2 Aug. 2017 Departure might be further impelled by the production’s longueurs as Arden and his actors mistake non-expression for ’50s-era British reserve. Daryl H. Miller, latimes.com, 15 June 2017 See More

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

Word History


French, literally, length

First Known Use

1791, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of longueur was in 1791


Dictionary Entries Near longueur

Cite this Entry

“Longueur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/longueur. Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

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