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

For others, the matter might involve much more than malaise. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Driving Without a Smartphone," 10 July 2018 The last several years have been defined by store closings, the high-profile failure of the Nook e-reader, falling revenues, layoffs, turnover, malaise. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Is Barnes & Noble Too Big to Fail?," 6 July 2018 After the malaise and soul-searching of 2016, when sales of expensive handbags and watches fell for the first time since the 2009 financial crisis, consumers are splashing out again. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "The Reborn Bling Dynasty in China," 7 June 2018 Recent earnings at David's reflect wedding retailers' struggle to adapt, both to demographic changes and to the broader retail malaise., "David's Bridal hires Evercore for debt advice as weddings wane," 18 May 2018 The malaise was capped in the ninth inning, when Cody Bellinger ignored a take sign and bunted with a 3-and-0 count. Bill Shaikin,, "Dodgers lose third consecutive to Reds when Dave Roberts' pitching strategy backfires in sixth inning," 13 May 2018 These immortal, undead creatures are dragging with middle-age malaise, desperate for a date night away from the kids. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Monsters go on vacation in 'Hotel Transylvania 3'," 12 July 2018 Putin, 65, already Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin after more than 18 years at the helm, is seeking a fourth term amid an escalating stand-off with the West and economic malaise. Henry Meyer,, "Russians Vote on New Putin Term as Tensions Flare With West," 17 Mar. 2018 And not just because of my general malaise. Sickness is everywhere. Elizabeth Wellington,, "Deepak Chopra's timing for a trip to Philadelphia is absolutely perfect | Elizabeth Wellington," 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

11 Oct 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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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).


to reject or criticize sharply

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