non·​sense | \ ˌnän-ˌsen(t)s How to pronounce nonsense (audio) , ˈnän(t)-sən(t)s \

Definition of nonsense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : words or language having no meaning or conveying no intelligible ideas "And the mome raths outgrabe" is pure nonsense.
b(1) : language, conduct, or an idea that is absurd or contrary to good sense To regard the struggle for existence as tragic, however, is logical nonsense.— O. B. Hardison Jr.
(2) : an instance of absurd action Today's teenagers are … sharp observers of the nonsenses of adult life and society …— Bernard Trafford
2a : things of no importance or value : trifles the raincoats are classic, without any nonsenseNew Yorker
b : affected or impudent conduct took no nonsense from subordinates The teacher tolerated no nonsense in her classroom.
3 : genetic information consisting of one or more codons that do not code for any amino acid and usually cause termination of the molecular chain in protein synthesis (see synthesis sense 1)



Definition of nonsense (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : consisting of an arbitrary grouping of speech sounds or symbols \ˈshrȯg-ˌthī-əmpth\ is a nonsense word a nonsense syllable
2 : consisting of one or more codons that are genetic nonsense — compare antisense, missense

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Other Words from nonsense


nonsensical \ ˌnän-​ˈsen(t)-​si-​kəl How to pronounce nonsense (audio) \ adjective
nonsensically \ ˌnän-​ˈsen(t)-​si-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce nonsense (audio) \ adverb
nonsensicalness \ ˌnän-​ˈsen(t)-​si-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce nonsense (audio) \ noun

Examples of nonsense in a Sentence

Noun I don't know why you believe that nonsense about certain numbers being unlucky. She thinks that astrology is nonsense. Don't listen to him. He's talking nonsense. He was not in the mood to put up with any nonsense from his little brother. If they start pushing each other or some such nonsense, send them to their rooms. She doesn't take any nonsense from anyone. Many of the words in the poem are nonsense. I understood so few of the words they were using that the conversation sounded like nonsense to me.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Though the padlocking episode put him in conflict with the Paterson school board, his no-nonsense style led to an interview for a White House job in early 1988. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Joe Clark, Tough Principal at New Jersey High School, Dies at 82," 30 Dec. 2020 Building a folly requires a sense of whimsy, something that Mr. Fraser finds lacking in the no-nonsense Victorian era and the earnest art movements of the 19th century. Witold Rybczynski, WSJ, "‘Follies’ Review: Castle Frivolous," 24 Dec. 2020 Kittelson, who also drove a milk truck, was a no-nonsense guy, Bergmann said. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, "Clayton, Wis., loses beloved fire chief to COVID-19," 20 Dec. 2020 This is the web version of Bull Sheet, a no-nonsense daily newsletter on what’s happening in the markets. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "How high can Bitcoin go? The bulls say this rally has only just begun," 17 Dec. 2020 Lana Bernstein had a friendly, no-nonsense manner and just a hint of an Eastern European accent. New York Times, "Her Wrist Was Swollen and Excruciatingly Painful. Steroids Didn’t Help Much.," 16 Dec. 2020 But the earth-shaking template created and refined by this no-nonsense band from Birmingham, England, sounds just as vital and instructive today. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "All boxed up! New CD and vinyl box sets from Prince, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, U2 and more," 13 Dec. 2020 After Reduction in Force (RIF) day, Harper has to make a pivotal decision for the future of the company —take back erratic, narcissistic Managing Director Eric (Ken Leung) or keep rule-abiding, no-nonsense Line Manager Daria (Freya Mavor). Reana Johnson,, "Harper’s Shocking Industry Finale Decision Isn’t Really All That Shocking," 4 Dec. 2020 Avaline's new sparkling wine embodies the brand's no-nonsense approach toward crafting clean, crowd-pleasing wines. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cameron Diaz Knows It's Always Time for Sparkling Wine," 3 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For comparison, the researchers also said nonsense words that sounded nothing like the command. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Dogs Can’t Tell the Difference Between Similar-Sounding Words," 11 Dec. 2020 Nonsense dressed up in statistical jargon is still nonsense. Eric Litke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Statistical analysis supporting pro-Trump Supreme Court case is 'ludicrous'," 11 Dec. 2020 The distinction was superficially plausible but nonsense upon inspection, for at least two reasons. Ankush Khardori, The New Republic, "No One’s Hands Are Clean at the Justice Department," 13 Oct. 2020 The malicious script is called by a single line that comprises mostly nonsense characters when viewed with the human eye. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Boom! Hacked page on mobile phone website is stealing customers’ card data," 5 Oct. 2020 All of that is nonsense — just more attempts to discredit QAnon, Cook said. Nathan Bomey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How QAnon, a fringe online movement, is drawing followers in Wisconsin and across the U.S. with a stew of conspiracies," 4 Sep. 2020 On the podcast Social Distance, staff writer James Hamblin explains why these claims are mostly nonsense (and have been for years), and executive producer Katherine Wells asks him about vitamins. The Atlantic, "Listen: The Empty Promise of Vitamins," 17 June 2020 But even without the virus crisis, Philip would have sought to downplay public folderol about his birthday, in keeping with his non-nonsense personality. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Prince Philip turns 99: The Queen's husband marks a historic birthday in no-fuss way," 11 June 2020 The Trump administration has eschewed science and medicine, and is now having him give nonsense press conferences that the few medical experts left in our government have to follow up and correct. Erica Sackin,, "I’m Pregnant & I’m Scared Trump’s Incompetence Is Putting My Baby At Risk," 22 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nonsense.' 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 nonsense


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for nonsense

Time Traveler

The first known use of nonsense was in 1612

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Statistics for nonsense

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nonsense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for nonsense


How to pronounce nonsense (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nonsense

: words or ideas that are foolish or untrue
: behavior that is silly, annoying, or unkind
: language that has no meaning


non·​sense | \ ˈnän-ˌsens How to pronounce nonsense (audio) , -səns \

Kids Definition of nonsense

: foolish or meaningless words, ideas, or actions Don't believe such nonsense.


non·​sense | \ ˈnän-ˌsen(t)s, ˈnän(t)-sən(t)s How to pronounce nonsense (audio) \

Medical Definition of nonsense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: genetic information consisting of one or more codons that do not code for any amino acid and usually cause termination of the molecular chain in protein synthesis — compare antisense, missense



Medical Definition of nonsense (Entry 2 of 2)

: consisting of one or more codons that are genetic nonsense nonsense mutations

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