Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. spiritual or mental sloth.
  • n. apathy; a lack of care or interest; indifference
  • n. boredom

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue (personified as one of the deadly sins).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An abnormal mental condition, characterized by carelessness, listlessness, fatigue, and want of interest in affairs.
  • n. A Cuban name for a species of tongue-fish or sole, Symphurus plagusia.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue (personified as one of the deadly sins)

Etymologies

Late Latin, from Greek akēdeia, indifference : a-, a-; see a-1 + kēdos, care.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Cassian himself dwells on the horrible liability of the monks to the principal vices which infest human nature — gluttony, uncleanness, avarice, anger, vainglory, pride — above all, that despairing and unaccountable melancholy which they call acedia, and describe as “the demon that walketh in the noonday.”

    Gathering Clouds: A Tale of the Days of St. Chrysostom

  • I returned to my old way of life, out of desperation, loneliness, isolation, I was supposedly a hermit and what is called 'acedia' - something many people today think is the 'dark night' - it's not.

    Compunction

  • And as the subtitle promises the themes it will explore are the intersections of acedia with the writer's marriage -- especially with her husband's illness and death; with monks, who come in both because Norris first encountered the term acedia in the writings of the desert fathers and because she's a Benedictine oblate and thus has found that participating in the monastic life as a lay person has been for her a primary means of combating acedia; and the writing life, both Norris and her late husband are published poets.

    The Wine Dark Sea

  • Simple boredom is the sort you suffer from during long Christmas dinners or political speeches; "existential" boredom is more complex and persistent, taking in many conditions, such as melancholia, depression, world weariness and what the psalmist called the "destruction that wasteth at noonday"—or spiritual despair, often referred to as acedia or accidie.

    Accidie? Ennui? Sigh . . .

  • People do feel helpless, but I believe that sense is itself a sign of something spiritually deadly: what the Fathers and Doctors of the Church called acedia or the deadly sin of "sloth."

    Archive 2005-10-01

  • The ancient word acedia, which in Greek simply means the absence or lack of care, has proved anything but simple when it comes to finding adequate expression in English.

    The Wine Dark Sea

  • I wrote my book because I suspected that although the word "acedia" is unfamiliar to most of us, its effects are widely known.

    Signs of the Times

  • Rather than titillate or horrify, MTV's Skins elicits a certain acedia -- a lingering spiritual listlessness or torpor that the ancients counted among the Seven Deadly Sins.

    Cathleen Falsani: MTV's Skins: Suffer The Little Children

  • Still, when talk turns toward carbon footprints and global warming, lately a certain melancholy -- almost a vague acedia -- has begun to shadow my heart.

    Cathleen Falsani: God Is Green: Why 'Less Bad' Is Not Good

  • She concludes that the worst that acedia can do to us is not only make us unable to care, but also take away our ability to feel bad about that.

    Rev. Amy Ziettlow: Battling Christmas Crankiness

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  • "Melancholy, as it was called until the twentieth century, is of course a very ancient problem, and was described in the fifth century BC by Hippocrates. Chaucer's fourteenth-century characters were aware of it, and late medieval churchmen knew it as acedia, which was technically a sin, since it often led to the neglect of religious obligations."
    —Barbara Ehrenreich, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), 133

    Gee, just what a depressed person needs: to be told that being depressed is a sin.

    March 14, 2009

  • 1. Apathy; a lack of care or interest; indifference
    2. Spiritual or mental sloth;
    3. boredom

    Acedia is a Latin word, from Greek akedia, literally meaning "absence of caring".

    May 7, 2008