Definition of roi fainéant in US English:

roi fainéant

(also roi faineant)


  • 1Any of the later Merovingian kings, who increasingly played a ceremonial role with only nominal political power.

  • 2Any king, ruler, or leader who has only nominal power.


Late 18th century; earliest use found in John Richardson (?1741–1795), orientalist. From French roi fainéant, lit. ‘sluggard king’ from roi + fainéant idler, sluggard.