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non·​sense ˌnän-ˌsen(t)s How to pronounce nonsense (audio)
: words or language having no meaning or conveying no intelligible ideas
"And the mome raths outgrabe" is pure nonsense.
: 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.
: an instance of absurd action
Today's teenagers are … sharp observers of the nonsenses of adult life and society …Bernard Trafford
: things of no importance or value : trifles
the raincoats are classic, without any nonsenseNew Yorker
: affected or impudent conduct
took no nonsense from subordinates
The teacher tolerated no nonsense in her classroom.
: 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)
nonsensical adjective
nonsensically adverb
nonsensicalness noun


2 of 2


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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The researchers also discovered nonsense words could lead generative AIs to produce not-safe-for-work (NSFW) images. IEEE Spectrum, 20 Nov. 2023 Streisand often seems just about to swerve into nonsense, then steers herself back to the point. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2023 The songs were catchy by design, even if the lyrics were irrelevant to the artist or, in some cases, nonsense. Chris Stover, CBS News, 13 Nov. 2023 Please stop this nonsense which seems to be a specialty of Christian who should live up to his namesake. Christian Schneider, National Review, 2 Nov. 2023 Images: Bloomberg News/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly The nonsense on college campuses that is grabbing headlines deserves to be called out. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, 24 Oct. 2023 This column represents my opinion, alone—but in my opinion, Fain isn’t having it; his rhetoric shows how to disregard the nonsense and address the real challenges for the auto industry. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 After a torrent of complaints that the bot made up historical events and spewed other nonsense, Meta removed it from the internet. Cade Metz, New York Times, 25 Sep. 2023 That Hollywood creation is mere paper-thin pleasure, a nonsense candy corn of a thing that barely features any surprise, idiosyncrasy, or respect for the viewer. Keep Mario Weird, Vulture, 30 Oct. 2023
Loretta’s bodice rippers are nonsense. Amy Nicholson, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2022 The ragtag squad includes a non-nonsense barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez), an insecure fledgling sorcerer (Justice Smith), a shapeshifting druid (Sophia Lillis), and a solemn, unflappable paladin (Regé-Jean Page). A.a. Dowd, Chron, 11 Mar. 2023 This word is overused and seemingly nonsense, especially when there's no sincerity and the answer isn’t backed up with the importance of your role. Expert Panel, Forbes, 18 July 2022 People take these non-drugs, spending billions -- billions -- of dollars on what is provably nonsense. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 5 Feb. 2011 Researchers delighted in getting Galactica to write nonsense academic papers and posting the results on Twitter. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2022 The Newsom administration asserts that speculation about production rollbacks and gas shortages is nonsense. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 8 Dec. 2022 Charms might use nonsense words for the same effect. John Last, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Oct. 2022 The idea that, under the leadership of the reassuringly dull Keir Starmer, Labour can be trusted is nonsense, as, incidentally, is the notion that the Tories would be improved by a period in the wilderness. The Editors, National Review, 21 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nonsense was in 1612

Dictionary Entries Near nonsense

Cite this Entry

“Nonsense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


: foolish or meaningless words or actions
: things of no importance or value

Medical Definition


1 of 2 noun
: 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


2 of 2 adjective
: consisting of one or more codons that are genetic nonsense
nonsense mutations

More from Merriam-Webster on nonsense

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