mal·​aise | \ mə-ˈlāz How to pronounce malaise (audio) , ma-, -ˈlez How to pronounce malaise (audio) \

Definition of malaise

1 : an indefinite feeling of debility or lack of health often indicative of or accompanying the onset of an illness An infected person will feel a general malaise.
2 : a vague sense of mental or moral ill-being a malaise of cynicism and despair— Malcolm Boyd

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Did You Know?

Malaise, which ultimately traces back to Old French, has been part of English since the mid-18th century. One of its most notable uses, however, came in 1979 - well, sort of. President Jimmy Carter never actually used the word in his July 15 televised address, but it became known as the malaise speech all the same. In the speech, Carter described the U.S. as a nation facing a crisis of confidence and rife with paralysis and stagnation and drift. He spoke of a national malaise a few days later, and it's not hard to see why the malaise name stuck. The speech was praised by some and criticized by many others, but whatever your politics, it remains a vivid illustration of the meaning of malaise.

Examples of malaise in a Sentence

The symptoms include headache, malaise, and fatigue. An infected person will feel a general malaise. The country's current economic problems are symptoms of a deeper malaise.
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Recent Examples on the Web Lindor’s slump has been part of a larger malaise for the Mets at the plate this season. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The New York Mets’ $341 Million Slump," 7 May 2021 Tapestry on Thursday reported fiscal third-quarter results that beat Wall Street estimates as spending on luxury goods rebounded from a deep malaise last year., "Golfers’ return to the links bolsters Acushnet," 6 May 2021 But this was still a night that pierced through a malaise. Chris Jones,, "Review: ‘Alexis Roston Sings Ella Fitzgerald’ is live for a very happy audience at the newly reopened Milwaukee Rep," 2 May 2021 These Warriors have a tendency to slip into a sub-competitive malaise. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Warriors' Steve Kerr struggling with the NBA reality he warned us was coming.," 7 Apr. 2021 For many here, the extraordinary convergence of events was an illustration of a political and constitutional malaise afflicting the nation that gets worse from year to year. New York Times, "Defendant No. 1 or Next Prime Minister? Netanyahu Divides Israel," 5 Apr. 2021 Yes, the second-year Miami Heat guard said, a roster shakeup just might be what his team needed to emerge from a midseason malaise. Ira Winderman,, "Tyler Herro says something fresh exactly what Heat need," 26 Mar. 2021 In addition to arm soreness and a little malaise, some people are reporting an unusual side effect following their Covid-19 vaccinations: an intense metallic taste that can last for days. Erika Edwards, NBC News, "A mouthful of nickels? Some say they taste metal after a Covid-19 vaccination," 25 Mar. 2021 But there exists for many of us an undeniable pull of wanderlust, to end the malaise brought on by staying put for most of 2020. Eric Barton,, "Postcard from the edge of a pandemic," 11 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'malaise.' 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 malaise

1768, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for malaise

French malaise, from Old French, from mal- + aise comfort — more at ease

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The first known use of malaise was in 1768

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Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Malaise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for malaise



English Language Learners Definition of malaise

medical : a slight or general feeling of not being healthy or happy
: a problem or condition that harms or weakens a group, society, etc.


mal·​aise | \ mə-ˈlāz How to pronounce malaise (audio) , ma- How to pronounce malaise (audio) , -ˈlez \

Medical Definition of malaise

: an indefinite feeling of debility or lack of health often indicative of or accompanying the onset of an illness fever, malaise, and other flu-like symptoms— Larry Thompson

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