va·​pid ˈva-pəd How to pronounce vapid (audio) ˈvā- How to pronounce vapid (audio)
: lacking flavor, zest, interest, animation, or spirit : flat, dull
a gossipy, vapid woman, obsessed by her own eleganceR. F. Delderfield
London was not all vapid dissipationV. S. Pritchett
vapidly adverb
vapidness noun

Did you know?

“Then away goes the brisk and pleasant Spirits and leave a vapid or sour Drink.” So wrote John Mortimer—an early 18th-century expert on agriculture, orchards, and cider-making—in his book on husbandry. His use was typical for his day, when vapid was often used specifically in reference to liquor. The term comes from Latin vapidus, meaning “flat-tasting,” a possible relative of vapor. That use still occurs today; you might, for example, hear an uninspiring wine described as vapid. More likely, however, you’ll hear vapid, along with the synonyms insipid, flat, and inane, describe people and things that are dull and boring, empty and insubstantial, or lacking spirit and character.

Choose the Right Synonym for vapid

insipid, vapid, flat, jejune, banal, inane mean devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character.

insipid implies a lack of sufficient taste or savor to please or interest.

an insipid romance with platitudes on every page

vapid suggests a lack of liveliness, force, or spirit.

an exciting story given a vapid treatment

flat applies to things that have lost their sparkle or zest.

although well-regarded in its day, the novel now seems flat

jejune suggests a lack of rewarding or satisfying substance.

a jejune and gassy speech

banal stresses the complete absence of freshness, novelty, or immediacy.

a banal tale of unrequited love

inane implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality.

an inane interpretation of the play

Examples of vapid in a Sentence

Waiting rooms, as I'm sure you know, are small rooms with plenty of chairs for waiting, as well as piles of old, dull magazines to read and some vapid paintings … while you endure the boredom that doctors and dentists inflict on their patients before bringing them in to poke them and prod them and do all the miserable things that such people are paid to do. Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator, 2001
In a secular age, symbolic rituals such as lighting the Olympic torch inevitably risk seeming a little vapid. Tony Perrottet, Civilization, June/July 2000
… the incompetent servant, by whomsoever employed, is always against his employer. Even those born governors, noble and right honourable creatures, who have been the most imbecile in high places, have uniformly shown themselves the most opposed (sometimes in belying distrust, sometimes in vapid insolence) to THEIR employer. What is in such wise true of the public master and servant, is equally true of the private master and servant all the world over. Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, 1865
a song with vapid lyrics
Recent Examples on the Web Kid is a candidate for the rite of passage, confronts vapid Jewish education, overemphasis on the celebration, clueless parents, etc.; skips town, goes to Israel on a Jewish spiritual quest, has adventures, encounters various teachers and role models, comes back with a new sense of Jewish identity. The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Sep. 2023 This is in part because of her boss, Vera (Bellamy Young), a vapid embodiment of privilege who says all the right things about the possibilities of promotion, but never comes through. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 6 Sep. 2023 In this well-coiffed if somewhat vapid murder mystery, talented, ambitious and backstabbing hairstylists gather for a competition only to find one of their own dead before judging can begin. Staff, Dallas News, 10 Aug. 2023 Unfortunately, much of today’s synthesized, monotonous, cookie-cutter and somewhat vapid music will be lucky to last a year, maybe 10, but certainly not 60 years or more, as is the case with Bennett’s repertoire. Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2023 Trendy, vapid Chazelle sentimentalized a token Mexican immigrant in Babylon, but Jordan and waggish co-screenwriter William Monahan, who scripted Scorsese’s The Departed, plays with ethnicity (those Irish mugs, Lange’s perfect brogue, and Cumming’s perfect Southern twang). Armond White, National Review, 17 Feb. 2023 On vacation with Cameron and his seemingly vapid, picture-perfect wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy) after selling his company for a fortune, the working-class entrepreneur is new to this world of one-percenter opulence, both intrigued and repelled by the luxury that Cameron has known all his life. Tim Grierson, Los Angeles Times, 12 June 2023 The vapid Briney, for his part, is a blank slate: a pretty boy who navigates Dalí’s wonderland with wide eyes and a willingness to get swept up in a vivid dream. Pat Padua, Washington Post, 7 June 2023 So far, Malone has stood the test of time, morphing from a vapid, clout-chasing rapper to a self-conscious acoustic rock star. Joshua Medintz, The Enquirer, 10 July 2023 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from Latin vapidus "(of wine) having lost freshness, flat"; akin to Latin vappa "wine that has gone flat" and perhaps to vapor "exhalation, steam" — more at vapor entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vapid was circa 1656


Dictionary Entries Near vapid

Cite this Entry

“Vapid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: being dull or uninteresting
vapidly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on vapid

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