non·​cha·​lant ˌnän-shə-ˈlänt How to pronounce nonchalant (audio)
: having an air of easy unconcern or indifference

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chalant the opposite of nonchalant?

There is no word chalant in English. Nonchalant comes from an Old French word nonchaloir, meaning "to disregard." That word comes from non-, meaning "not," + chaloir, meaning "to concern." If you want a word that means the opposite of nonchalant, both concerned and interested can do the job.

Is nonchalant a bad or negative thing?

Nonchalant can be either negative or positive. The word describes someone who is relaxed and calm in a way that shows that they do not care or are not worried about something. If someone is nonchalant about another person's pain or trouble, the word has a definite negative connotation. But if someone successfully undertaking a difficult task is described as nonchalant, their calmness and relaxed manner can be admirable. If they fail in that task, however, the fact that they were nonchalant will likely be a criticism and explanation for their failure.

What does it mean when someone is nonchalant?

Someone who is nonchalant is relaxed and calm, either because they do not care about something or because they are not worried about something.

Choose the Right Synonym for nonchalant

cool, composed, collected, unruffled, imperturbable, nonchalant mean free from agitation or excitement.

cool may imply calmness, deliberateness, or dispassionateness.

kept a cool head

composed implies freedom from agitation as a result of self-discipline or a sedate disposition.

the composed pianist gave a flawless concert

collected implies a concentration of mind that eliminates distractions especially in moments of crisis.

the nurse stayed calm and collected

unruffled suggests apparent serenity and poise in the face of setbacks or in the midst of excitement.

harried but unruffled

imperturbable implies coolness or assurance even under severe provocation.

the speaker remained imperturbable despite the heckling

nonchalant stresses an easy coolness of manner or casualness that suggests indifference or unconcern.

a nonchalant driver

Examples of nonchalant in a Sentence

In those stories, we already find the qualities the world would come to know as "Kafkaesque": the nonchalant intrusion of the bizarre and horrible into everyday life, the subjection of ordinary people to an inscrutable fate. Adam Kirsch, New York Times Book Review, 4 Jan. 2009
… watch his iron-backed posture as he rides a horse and listen to the nonchalant way in which, not barking but speaking he says "Fire" to the line of infantry, like someone asking for a light. John Updike, New Yorker, 30 Sept. 2002
He and Anita (and an ancient, nonchalant Lhasa apso … ) live in a gated community, surrounded by high, vine-covered walls, redolent of Wrigley, that embrace a golf club and an attractive thicket of large houses … Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 19 Mar. 2001
It was thrilling to watch them, the regulars, so nonchalant, so composed as they slipped from Senate cloakroom to Senate hideaway, sharing jokes with powerful men old enough to be their fathers. Ward Just, New York Times Book Review, 28 May 1989
He was surprisingly nonchalant about winning the award. She faced the crowd with the nonchalant ease of an experienced speaker. The team may have been somewhat nonchalant at the beginning of the season, but they now know that they need to work hard. See More
Recent Examples on the Web My parents, while nonchalant about rules, drew the line at uninsured motorists. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 27 Aug. 2023 Even though Todd Snyder is based in New York, the vibe of this suit is unmistakably Italian: chic and nonchalant at the same time. Brad Lanphear, Men's Health, 14 Aug. 2023 But there is also something improvisational and, at times, disarmingly nonchalant about the way Bradford invokes certain more tangential narratives. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 5 May 2023 To the lofty comparisons, Branch just responds with a nonchalant laugh. Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2023 The Entire State of Rhode Island Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but the number of nonchalant antique stores throughout it proves that even the best New England antiquing doesn't need to be so grand. Tara Henriques, Travel + Leisure, 25 Aug. 2023 Think: the subtle appeal of a nonchalant T-shirt tucked into a pair of easy-going trousers. Alexis Bennett Parker, Vogue, 11 Aug. 2023 Damian Lillard could relate to Nikola Jokić when the NBA Finals MVP surprised basketball fans with his nonchalant attitude toward the Denver Nuggets winning their first championship. Victoria Hernandez, USA TODAY, 21 June 2023 The Smart, Yet Stylish Sweater Vest With a Nonchalant Trouser A nonchalant, nondescript trouser, like this pair from Anine Bing, is the ultimate piece of quiet luxury. Laura Jackson, Vogue, 2 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nonchalant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, from Old French, from present participle of nonchaloir to disregard, from non- + chaloir to concern, from Latin calēre to be warm — more at lee

First Known Use

circa 1734, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nonchalant was circa 1734


Dictionary Entries Near nonchalant

Cite this Entry

“Nonchalant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


non·​cha·​lant ˌnän-shə-ˈlänt How to pronounce nonchalant (audio)
: having a confident and easy manner
face a crowd with nonchalant ease
nonchalantly adverb

from French nonchalant "not excited," derived from early French nonchaloir "to disregard, be unconcerned," from non- "not" and chaloir "to care," from Latin calēre "to be warm" — related to cauldron, calorie

More from Merriam-Webster on nonchalant

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!