mal·​aise | \mə-ˈlāz, ma-, -ˈlez \

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

Finally, after months of obnoxious delays and frustrating malaise, your hustle is back in business. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What August's Libra Horoscope Means for You," 30 July 2018 Let’s hope this research can continue because this could be an answer to the opioid crisis, not to mention the spiritual malaise that is so prevalent in my generation. New York Times, "Readers Respond to the 5.20.18 Issue," 31 May 2018 To avoid the messy desk malaise, Comcast designed custom roll-away bins to store set-top boxes. Bob Fernandez,, "Comcast tests out its new 60-story tower in converted Horsham office complex," 2 May 2018 Netflix’s megapopular show, which chronicles the ascension and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, is chock-full of heartbreak, malaise, tragedy, and betrayal. Dan Barna, Glamour, "Queen Elizabeth Reportedly Wasn't Happy With This Scene in Season 2 of The Crown," 25 Sep. 2018 If the past few weeks have been plagued with endless phone tag, emails that have gone unreplied, and general malaise, Mars’s direct motion in ambitious Capricorn will make sure your career is back-on-track by the end of the month. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What August's Aries Horoscope Means for You," 30 July 2018 The Shitty Architecture Men list revealed accusations of harassment, anecdotes about discrimination, and malaise and anger from the industry’s workers and students. Diana Budds, Curbed, "#MeToo hit architecture. Now what?," 5 July 2018 Italy has suffered both from long-standing economic malaise, made more acute in the years of the eurozone crisis, and a mounting migration crisis in the Mediterranean. Angelos Chryssogelos, Time, "The Populism Debate Ignores the Real Lessons of Italy's Political Crisis," 31 May 2018 After leading Texas to a Final Four and two Elite Eights over his first 10 years in Austin, Barnes’s Longhorns teams drifted into a March malaise, failing to make it through the first weekend in all six tourney trips from 2008-09 to 2014-15. The Si Staff,, "NCAA Bracket Advice Roundtable: March Madness Upset Picks, Trends to Avoid and More," 14 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for malaise

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for malaise

The first known use of malaise was in 1768

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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, ma-, -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 flulike symptoms— Larry Thompson

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More from Merriam-Webster on 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

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