A souvenir seller appears bored as she waits for customers.

In conventional usage, boredom is an emotional and occasionally psychological state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in their surroundings, or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious. It is also understood by scholars as a modern phenomenon which has a cultural dimension. "There is no universally accepted definition of boredom. But whatever it is, researchers argue, it is not simply another name for depression or apathy. It seems to be a specific mental state that people find unpleasant—a lack of stimulation that leaves them craving relief, with a host of behavioural, medical and social consequences."[1] According to BBC News, boredom "...can be a dangerous and disruptive state of mind that damages your health"; yet research "...suggest[s] that without boredom we couldn't achieve our creative feats."[2]

In Experience Without Qualities: Boredom and Modernity, Elizabeth Goodstein traces the modern discourse on boredom through literary, philosophical, and sociological texts to find that as "a discursively articulated phenomenon...boredom is at once objective and subjective, emotion and intellectualization—not just a response to the modern world but also a historically constituted strategy for coping with its discontents."[3] In both conceptions, boredom has to do fundamentally with an experience of time and problems of meaning.

Etymology and terminology

The expression to be a bore had been used in print in the sense of "to be tiresome or dull" since 1768 at the latest.[4] The expression "boredom" means "state of being bored," 1852, from bore (v.1) + -dom. It also has been employed in a sense "bores as a class" (1883) and "practice of being a bore" (1864, a sense properly belonging to boreism, 1833).[5] The word "bore" as a noun meaning a "thing which causes ennui or annoyance" is attested to since 1778; "of persons by 1812". The noun "bore" comes from the verb "bore", which had the meaning "[to] be tiresome or dull" first attested [in] 1768, a vogue word c. 1780–81 according to Grose (1785); possibly a figurative extension of "to move forward slowly and persistently, as a [hole-] boring tool does."[6]

The French term for boredom, ennui, is sometimes used in English as well, at least since 1778. The term ennui was first used "as a French word in English;" in the 1660s and it was "nativized by 1758".[7] The term ennui comes "from French ennui, from Old French enui "annoyance" (13c.), [a] back-formation from enoiier, anuier.[7] "The German word for "boredom" expresses this: Langeweile, a compound made of lange "long" and Weile "while", which is in line with the common perception that when one is bored, time passes "tortuously" slowly.[8]

Other Languages
አማርኛ: ድብርት
العربية: سأم
asturianu: Aburrición
Avañe'ẽ: Kaigue
Bân-lâm-gú: Bô-liâu
български: Отегчение
català: Avorriment
čeština: Nuda
dansk: Kedsomhed
Deutsch: Langeweile
español: Aburrimiento
Esperanto: Enuo
euskara: Asperraldi
français: Ennui
galego: Aburrimento
한국어: 지루함
հայերեն: Ձանձրույթ
Ido: Enoyo
Bahasa Indonesia: Kebosanan
italiano: Noia
עברית: שעמום
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಬೇಸರ
Limburgs: Vervaeling
македонски: Здодевност
Nederlands: Verveling
日本語: 退屈
norsk: Kjedsomhet
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਕੇਵਾਂ
polski: Nuda
português: Tédio
română: Plictiseală
русский: Скука
sicilianu: Fasiddiu
Simple English: Boredom
slovenčina: Nuda
српски / srpski: Досада
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Dosada
suomi: Tylsyys
svenska: Tristess
தமிழ்: சலிப்பு
తెలుగు: విసుగుదల
українська: Нудьга
Tiếng Việt: Chán
中文: 厭煩