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 While the angle of seats on the sunny side is a real issue, most of the malaise can be attributed directly to the team’s missteps. Ann Killion,, "Time for Levi’s Stadium to break its ‘curse’ over the 49ers," 2 Jan. 2020 In medical terminology, the symptom of malaise encompasses some of the feelings that come with being ill. Joshua Schrock, The Conversation, "Feeling sick is an emotion meant to help you get better faster," 17 Dec. 2019 On the other hand, the Hoosiers remain prone to lengthy spells of defensive malaise. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Archie Miller: IU's pack-line defense improving, but still gives up great shots too easily," 29 Nov. 2019 But the malaise that Mr Giammattei will inherit is already clear. The Economist, "Guatemala’s president-elect promises “sufficient testosterone”," 15 Aug. 2019 The malaise is a turnaround in what had been a growing segment of global emerging markets in recent years. Saumya Vaishampayan, WSJ, "Distress Signal: Risky Chinese Bonds Leave Investors Underwater," 29 Nov. 2018 Still, millions of people across the country will be shaking off the post-Thanksgiving feast malaise and hitting the town this coming Friday (if not Thursday evening) to pick up discount clothes, electronics, toys and more for the holiday season. Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, "Black Friday shoppers: The Denver Post business reporters want to know your secrets," 26 Nov. 2019 And Dallas has plenty of stars to carry the team through their early malaises. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "Monday night's win over the Giants emblematic of bigger issue for Cowboys," 5 Nov. 2019 The large-scale shutdown of the city’s subway network has exacerbated its deepening economic malaise. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s government blames “social incidents” for tipping the economy into a deep recession," 31 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for malaise

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The first known use of malaise was in 1768

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Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Malaise.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for malaise


How to pronounce malaise (audio) How to pronounce malaise (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on malaise

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for malaise

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with malaise

Spanish Central: Translation of malaise

Nglish: Translation of malaise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of malaise for Arabic Speakers

Comments on malaise

What made you want to look up malaise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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