What does ennui mean?


What's wrong, mon ami? Are you suffering from ennui, a French word for "boredom."

Examples of ennui


Examples of ennui
Dramatic girls thrive in fall with our trenches and moody lip colors and palpable ennui
@shelllfishh, September, 2018
The prospect of being with your significant other forever. Does it sound like eternal bliss? Or a recipe for soul-crushing ennui?
Brad Newsome, The Sydney Morning Herald, September, 2018

Where does ennui come from?


The word ennui comes from an old French word meaning “profound sadness, chagrin, or disgust.” Among French speakers, ennui can also refer to “disagreeableness.” It comes from a Latin word that also gives us the word annoy.


English borrowed ennui by the 1660s to express a “weary boredom” that results from dissatisfaction or idleness. A 1778 definition of bore describes it as a “thing which causes ennui or annoyance.”


Like in French, ennui became used in English to describe a feeling of discontent almost as if it was an actual object. It usually has a kind of wistful listlessness.

Who uses ennui?

Ennui, as a fancy word for “boredom,” implies discontent and angst. It is often used as if one were describing an illness, as in “I’m suffering from ennui.” It’s a tricky word to define in English—probably because it comes from French.

Ennui remains associated with the kind of existential emo-ness and can be used for melodramatic effect.


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