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Jejune

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    • (1) Dull or uninteresting in intellectual content; lacking depth or sophistication.
    • (2) Childish.
    • (3) Meager or lacking nutrition.

    Jejune comes from Latin, where its several root forms have to do with hunger and fasting. It came to English around 1600 already bearing its figurative senses (the first two), which are now the main ones. Exactly how it came to English remains a mystery, as it had not existed in any of the Latinate language for several centuries.

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    Examples

    Versions there are, a majority of them dull and spiritless, lifeless and jejune, but they are not translations. [Southern Literary Messenger (1835)]

    [H]e would probably have been rambling in Italy sketching plans for several dramas, trying prose and finding it too jejune, trying verse and finding it too artificial, beginning to copy “bits” from old pictures, leaving off because they were “no good.” [Middlemarch, George Eliot (1869)]

    There are four or five different secret expeditions of Sir William’s to Paris mentioned in the course of this jejune and unsatisfactory narrative. [The Edinburgh Review (1874)]

    They permeated the universe, absorbing beauty like parasites, fattening by what they fed on and transforming it whenever possible into the commonplace and jejune. [Word Without End, Reyner Barton (1944)]

    Jacques Chirac, ridiculed again at the weekend by the jejune Mr Haider as a pocket Napoleon, has personal and political reasons for wishing to prolong the punishment. [Guardian (2000)]

    Thinking in an untraditional way is precisely what’s needed at a time when the American musical has reverted to cheesy movie adaptations and jejune jukebox contraptions. [Los Angeles Times (2012)]

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