en·​nui | \ ˌän-ˈwē How to pronounce ennui (audio) \

Essential Meaning of ennui

: a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest He suffered from a general sense of ennui. [=boredom]

Full Definition of ennui

: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom

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The French loanword ennui comes from the very same Late Latin word that gave us annoyinodiare ("to make loathsome"). We borrowed ennui several centuries after absorbing annoy into the language. Ennui deals more with boredom than irritation - and a somewhat specific sort of boredom at that. It generally refers to the feeling of jadedness that can result from living a life of too much ease. The poet Charles Lloyd described it well in his 1823 Stanzas to Ennui when he referred to that world-weary sensation as a "soul-destroying fiend" which visits with its "pale unrest / The chambers of the human breast / Where too much happiness hath fixed its home."

Examples of ennui in a Sentence

When the antiproton was discovered … it sent a wave of ennui through the physics community. Not that its discovery was unimportant, but on the basis of Dirac's theory, everybody expected it. — Roger G. Newton, The Truth of Science, 1997 Chauncey and I were keen enough about our aesthetic solution to the ennui of war to try to proselytize others. He organized discussion groups with the crew; I took volunteers to visit landmarks … — Louis Auchincloss, "Atlantic War," in Authors at Sea, ed. Robert Shenk1997 The attendant outside was standing on tennis balls, exercising the soles of her feet, her body swaying back and forth with the ennui of jelly. — Edna O'Brien, New Yorker, 17 June 1991 Thus the days of life are consumed, one by one, without an object beyond the present moment; ever flying from the ennui of that, yet carrying it with us … — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter dated 7 Feb. 1787 Thomas Jefferson: Writings1984 the kind of ennui that comes from having too much time on one's hands and too little will to find something productive to do
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Recent Examples on the Web The 21st-century American-abroad novel mostly adds ennui and resignation to a coming of age that never comes: a really, truly dud avocado. Jennifer Schaffer-goddard, Vulture, 16 Sep. 2021 The song is a snapshot of Eilish’s psyche on the other side of her titanic, arms-full-of-Grammys fame, and its particular flavor of top-of-the-mountain ennui somehow finds the aesthetic common ground between Drake and Peggy Lee. New York Times, 2 Aug. 2021 There's a surrealist edge to some of these 60 second mise-en-scènes that help capture the curious beauty of provincial ennui. Leah Dolan, CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 Yet the ennui is not just a matter of pandemic chaos and the numerous scandals in the prelude to the Games. New York Times, 22 July 2021 In Christine Smallwood’s The Life of the Mind, the smart, disaffected protagonist fixates on doomy but vague images of climate crisis, which seem to fuel her ennui rather than spur her to action. Lily Meyer, The Atlantic, 12 Aug. 2021 Obliging attempts to blame our sloth on the inherent class injustices of a medieval university system or the ennui induced by late-stage capitalism would be greeted with a thin smile and a final warning. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 21 June 2021 Fanned by viral marketing, hubris and perhaps some pandemic ennui, interest in the NFT market has exploded, driving up the price of digital artworks to fantastical levels. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2021 Winslet has played her fair share of women grappling with ennui. Manuel Betancourt, Vulture, 27 May 2021

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

1732, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ennui

French, from Old French enui annoyance, from enuier to vex, from Late Latin inodiare to make loathsome — more at annoy

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ennui.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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