ennui and L’ennui and boredom
Posted: 23 February 2007 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Over at http://www.wordwizard.com/ch_forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=19663 the OP mentions “ennui” and opines that it is not “boredom”.  Further down that thread someone mentiones the French movie L’Ennui stating the is has been translated as “discontented boredom”

Does the French L’Ennui have a different meaning than the “ennui” in M-W and AHD? Does all boredom imply discontent? If so do we have a, non-facetious, word for people who are perfectly happy with their tedious lives?

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Posted: 23 February 2007 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to ennui that’s just I don’t know what to boredom.

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Posted: 23 February 2007 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Ennui does mean ‘boredom,’ but it also means ‘trouble, worry, problem.’ It’s easy enough to distinguish according to context; c’est à mourir d’ennui ‘it’s enough to bore you stiff’ vs. avoir des ennuis ‘to have problems/difficulties/worries.’ Nothing particularly mysterious or exotic.

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Posted: 23 February 2007 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Note that neither M-W nor AHD defines ennui simply as boredom. “Dissatisfaction,” “listlessness,” and “weariness” are included. The OED defines it as “the feeling of mental weariness and dissatisfaction produced by want of occupation, or by lack of interest in present surroundings or employments.”

And English usage does not have to match the French. Often when a word is borrowed, there is a shift in meaning as well. (In English, for example, garcon does not mean boy; it means waiter.) But in the case of ennui, I think English usage follows the French pretty closely.

Feel free to argue. I couldn’t care less.

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Posted: 23 February 2007 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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If used in English, it should be pronounced by a tired, metaphysical philosopher with a long cigarette with a seemingly even longer bit of ash at the end. And an almost imperceptible expression of breath.

ps Dave, love the quick reply Ajax stuff on this forum!

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