August 06, 2012
listless (adjective)
\LIST-lus\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: too tired or too little interested to want to do things
How do you use it?
It was terribly hot outside, and we were listless from the heat.
Are you a word wiz?

We hope you're not too listless to answer our quiz. When did the adjective "listless" first come into use?

The correct answer is C! Our earliest citation for "listless" comes from 1440, when it was used as the English translation of a Latin word that means "slothful, lazy, tired." You may wonder--if "listless" means "without interest or inclination," why doesn't "list" mean "interest or inclination"? It does: there is an old noun "list" that means "desire" or "inclination." Long ago, a person might have spoken of a "list" to sleep or a "list" to sing, for example. "List" was combined with "-less" to make "listless." But that "list" has fallen out of use, and is only alive today in the word "listless."
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