) KEY NOUN:
- Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom: "The servants relieved their ennui with gambling and gossip about their masters" (John Barth).
French, from Old French enui
, from ennuyer
, to annoy, bore
; see annoyWORD HISTORY:
Were they alive today, users of Classical Latin might be surprised to find that centuries later a phrase of theirs still survives, although as a single word. The phrase mihi in odi est
(literally translated as "to me in a condition of dislike or hatred is"), meaning "I hate or dislike," gave rise to the Vulgar Latin verb *inodire,
"to make odious," the source of the Old French verb ennuyer
"to annoy, bore." This was borrowed into English by around 1275 as anoien,
From the Old French verb a noun meaning "worry, boredom" was derived, which became ennui
in modern French. This noun, with the sense "boredom," was borrowed into English in the 18th century, perhaps filling a need in polite, cultivated society.