Definition of fainéant in US English:



  • An idle or ineffective person.

    unmoving, motionless, immobile, still, stock-still, stationary, static, dormant, sleeping
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  • Idle or ineffective.

    • ‘In Merovingian France in the Dark Ages the kings became known as les rois fainéants - the idle or lazy kings - and gradually lost power to the Mayors of the Palace, who eventually took the crown themselves.’
    • ‘The result could only be to weaken a legislature already fainéant enough, and further to accentuate that excess of executive power Furet had termed a national pathology.’
    • ‘She had a stronger character than her fainéant brother who was a worthless man of pleasure, and she was naturally conscious of her intellectual superiority.’
    • ‘Vulgar yet pretentious, tough yet incompetent, cynical, worldly and fainéant, the Berton brothers, as their name suggests, would have been better running a circus than a military school.’


Early 17th century: from French, from fait ‘does’ + néant ‘nothing’.