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

Did you know?

Malaise, which ultimately traces back to Old French, has been part of English since the 18th century. One of its most notable uses, however, came in 1979—well, sort of. U.S. 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 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.
Recent Examples on the Web The investigation actually tells a deeper story about the malaise that has struck a hugely important and influential shopping street and how landlords and unscrupulous businesses have attempted to play the U.K.’s real estate tax system. Mark Faithfull, Forbes, 15 June 2022 The ongoing pandemic, the higher cost of living, increased political division, and a climate disaster have all fostered a sense of general malaise. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 7 June 2022 And just a kind of malaise, particularly among young people. Robert Morast, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 Mar. 2022 Britain's economic malaise can't all be blamed on Brexit. Sam Kiley, CNN, 30 June 2022 When that level might be reached is unclear, though the contours of the future economic malaise are already visible. Georgi Kantchev, WSJ, 16 June 2022 In the footage screened, the gangly teen hangs out with a possible crush, watching cheesy game shows and experiencing an oddly comfortable mid-summer malaise of being young and bored and having not much to do. Ben Croll, Variety, 30 May 2022 The purpose of this book is to understand why there is a malaise in heterosexual relationships and to explain this in sociological rather than psychological terms. Anahid Nersessian, The New York Review of Books, 13 Jan. 2022 And for those who are eligible, voters say, there is a malaise that comes from watching your candidates lose time and again., 8 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Malaise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for malaise


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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