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  • Noun

ennui

AHN-wee

Context
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Highly repetitive tasks such as filing papers for hours on end can often cause boredom and ennui to set in, causing physical and mental fatigue. Many students feel an unbearable ennui during long boring class lectures or when waiting in long lines with nothing to do. To avoid ennui, you may want to take a book along to read when you know you’ll have a long wait with a lack of interesting things to do.

Quiz: Which of the following philosophers is warning against ennui?

  • “Haste in every business brings failures.”—Herodotus
  • “False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”—Socrates
  • “Boredom is the root of all evil.”—Soren Kierkegaard

Memory Hook
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Perennial Oui "Why do you always say "oui"? Why not say "yes"? You don't speak French! In fact, the only French word you know is "oui"! I think you say "oui" to make people think you know French! You perennially say "oui" every single stupid year ... why not switch languages, say, to Spanish? Why afflict me with your boring, perennial "oui," causing a great deal of ennui for me?"

Examples
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  • But as the weeks morphed into months with no clear end in sight for much of the country, the ennui of Covid-induced isolation can undermine enthusiasm for such mundane activities, however rewarding they may have seemed at first. —The New York Times
  • Leafing through the Daily Snooze while flying out of Washington Dullest en route to Bora Bora, it occurred to me—rhymes with ennui—that life, by at least one measure, has never been more boring. —Sports Illustrated
  • All of the villas have access to the beach, where personal attendants set up umbrellas and serve sorbets and other delights to ward off the ennui that can accompany a tiring day in the sun. —Los Angeles Times
  • Cece and Gordon’s marriage, already staggering under the combined weight of ennui and disappointment, seems unlikely to survive the unveiling of Phil’s secret: His screenplay is the story of his affair with Cece. —The Christian Science Monitor

Word Ingredients
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From word roots meaning “in hatred.” The force of ennui has been considerably toned down over the centuries; one certainly, however, still does not “love” a situation filled with “ennui.”

Word Constellation
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Ennui