Definitions

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

  • n. Exhaustion, as from lack of nourishment or vitality.
  • n. The condition or quality of being empty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Emptiness.
  • n. A state of advanced lack of adequate nutrition, food or water, or a physiological inability to utilize them; starvation.
  • n. A spiritual emptiness or lack of purpose or will to live, akin to the Existentialist Philosophy state of "nausea".

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The condition of being inane; emptiness; lack of fullness, as in the vessels of the body; hence, specifically, exhaustion from lack of food, either from partial or complete starvation, or from a disorder of the digestive apparatus, producing the same result.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The condition or consequence of being inane or empty; hence, exhaustion from lack of nourishment, either physical or mental; starvation due to deficiency or mal-assimilation of food.

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

  • n. weakness characterized by a lack of vitality or energy
  • n. exhaustion resulting from lack of food

Etymologies

Middle English inanisioun, emptiness, from Old French inanicion, exhaustion from hunger, from Late Latin inānītiō, inānītiōn-, emptiness, from inānītus, past participle of inānīre, to make empty, from Latin inānis, empty.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin inānītio, from inānīre ("to make empty"), from inānis ("empty, vain"); see inane. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "inanition" (starvation) for a short period, but that, accordingly, the qualitative side of the nourishment becomes more important the longer the fever lasts.

    Valere Aude Dare to Be Healthy, Or, The Light of Physical Regeneration

  • Having something to do, in my case something purely cerebral and verbal, is a salutary diversion -- if only in the almost literal sense of providing an occasion to communicate with the outside world and express in words, often angry words, the bottled-up irritations and frustrations of physical inanition.

    Anatomy Of Isolation: ALS Sufferer Tony Judt's Experience Of Night

  • They said they had lots of pretty good stuff, like the Diary of Anne Funk, she was a lesser-known "prisoner of conscience" from Burbank, CA, that died of inanition while hiding in the bottom drawer of a dresser until the tax assessor went away and a Golden Girls boxed set in VHS format, so I'd have to be more specific.

    Overcome the first marketing hurdle

  • England is full of wealth, of multifarious produce, supply for human want in every kind; yet England is dying of inanition.

    Modernism and social life

  • Weak from inanition, confused from want of sleep, harassed with fatigue, and exhausted by perturbation, she felt now so ill, that she solemnly believed her fatal wish quick approaching.

    Camilla

  • Admit, compassionate man, that it is necessary to suffer the most cruel need, and that it is very painful, for the sake of obtaining a little relief, to get oneself attested by the authorities as though one were not free to suffer and to die of inanition while waiting to have our misery relieved.

    Les Miserables

  • Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, a novelist, argued that women were less likely to be harmed by education than by the change from intellectual activity to intellectual inanition….

    The Five of Hearts

  • In particular, he says, beware Earth shoes and “sensible” shoes; the former hints at Carteresque inanition, while the latter signals that all-out war is near at hand.

    dustbury.com » Who wears short shorts?

  • It has to be admitted that in America societies of the kind are commonly of few years and full of trouble, and that a certain inanition, if nothing worse, quickly comes upon them.

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • Rhasis, [2929] repletion and inanition may both do harm in two contrary extremes.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

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Comments

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  • Choosing his boot, the buttoned class, as a convenient example of inanition, he lifted it in the air, slowly describing an arc of forty-five degrees.
    At Swim-Two-Birds

    November 3, 2008

  • Presley climbed to the summit of one of the hills--the highest--that rose out of the canyon, from the crest of which he could see for thirty, fifty, sixty miles down the valley, and, filling his pipe, smoked lazily for upwards of an hour, his head empty of thought, allowing himself to succumb to a pleasant, gentle inanition, a little drowsy, comfortable in his place, prone upon the ground, warmed just enough by such sunlight as filtered through the live-oaks, soothed by the good tobacco and the prolonged murmur of the spring and creek.

    - Frank Norris, The Octopus, ch. 1

    August 9, 2008