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

All this looks like an odd way to boost India’s flagging animal spirits—the deeper reason for corporate India’s malaise. The Economist, "India Inc is growing disenchanted with Narendra Modi," 17 Aug. 2019 But rarely have both programs been mired in such malaise — USC is 15 years past its last national title and coming off a 5-7 season, while UCLA hasn’t claimed a conference championship in more than 20 years and won just three games last fall. Jack Harriswriter, Los Angeles Times, "Why are USC and UCLA losing more local recruits to Pac-12 rivals?," 29 July 2019 The lesson of the Fed under Ben Bernanke and now (Janice) Yellen is that easy money is no economic solution to this decade-long malaise. Steve Chapman,, "Column: Trump, the Fed and our resilient economy," 12 July 2019 On Twitter, symptoms of renters’ malaise could be found all over the place, with some apartment dwellers fearing upheaval in their lives just because the landlord was suddenly making improvements to the property. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Bay Area renters’ giant game of musical chairs plays out online," 8 July 2019 Opinion is divided in Argentina as to who is to blame for the international team's malaise. Matias Grez, CNN, "What next for Lionel Messi and Argentina after yet more international failure?," 3 July 2019 Extremism comes in many sectarian shades and has evolved independently against a sense of malaise within various Muslim societies, sometimes because of European inroads and imperialism, and sometimes for entirely different reasons. Michael Rubin, National Review, "Turkey’s Africa Strategy Threatens to Breed Islamist Extremism," 26 June 2019 Facing that malaise, why wouldn’t Trump use the opportunity to give Doral an infusion of federal compensation and a healthy dose of global publicity? Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump’s Latest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme," 26 Aug. 2019 Systemic illness may include chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia and myalgia, and last up to two weeks. Fox News, "Rhode Island mosquitoes test positive for potentially deadly virus EEE, officials say," 16 Aug. 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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Statistics for malaise

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with malaise

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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What made you want to look up malaise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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