Word of the Day : May 25, 2017


noun in-uh-NISH-un


1 : the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water

2 : the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor

Did You Know?

Inanition describes a state of suffering from either a literal emptiness (of sustenance) or a metaphorical emptiness (of interest or energy), so it should come as no surprise that the word ultimately derives from the same idea in Latin. Inanition, which first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century as in-anisioun, can be traced back to the Latin verb inanire, meaning "to make empty," which in turn comes from inanis (meaning "empty"). Another far more common descendant of inanis is inane. The family resemblance is clear: inane is used describe things lacking significance or substance.


"My friend had no breakfast himself, for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food, and I have known him presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition." — Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder," 1903

"Although she remains largely in the background, Mama is the character apparently most energized by the revolution of 2011, the person who has found purpose and focus, eschewing nostalgia even as the men who surround her have lapsed into rueful inanition." — Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books, 18 Aug. 2016

Test Your Vocabulary

Unscramble the letters to create a verb that can mean "to become reduced to inanition": IHESLRV.



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