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 Come Saturday, however, after the selection of Mr. Irrelevant — as the 255th and last draft pick is known — a malaise will descend again. Ken Belson, New York Times, "N.F.L. Drafts Players, but Will They Play in the Fall?," 24 Apr. 2020 Three contrasting books examine a superpower’s malaise Do Morals Matter? The Economist, "The victor’s curse America won the cold war. What went wrong?," 2 Apr. 2020 There’s kind of a 1981 vibe to this Red Sox team, in the sense that the departure of popular players — Betts now, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson, and Butch Hobson then — has left a malaise over the fan base before the season even begins. Chad Finn,, "Why you shouldn’t give up on this Red Sox season," 26 Feb. 2020 Trains and workers plodded through the rail yard, all trapped in a deep malaise. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, "Thomas the Tank Engine was allegedly the engine for an accounting cover-up," 7 Nov. 2019 Sosa duel is widely credited with jolting baseball out of a post-strike malaise. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "The Year of the Home Run Reaches October," 1 Oct. 2019 There was a malaise the last two years with the Warriors, despite all the winning. Ann Killion,, "Welcome to the Golden State Warriors’ new home: Metaphor Center," 30 Sep. 2019 The issue was high-and-tight pitches to Javier Baez, but most figured Maddon was trying to get ejected to fire up his players and end a weekslong malaise. Paul Sullivan,, "4 people to watch as the Cubs and White Sox resume the City Series on the South Side," 5 July 2019 Nowhere has the productivity malaise been felt more keenly than in wage packets. Andrew Atkinson,, "Britain Embarks on Brexit Hobbled by Decade-Old Economic Scars," 6 May 2020

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

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Malaise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 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

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