from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A state of disuse or inactivity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Discontinuance of use, practice, custom, or fashion; disuse: as, many words in every language have fallen into desuetude.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The cessation of use; disuse; discontinuance of practice, custom, or fashion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun disuse, obsolescence (for example, the state of a custom that is no longer observed nor practised)

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

  • noun a state of inactivity or disuse


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

[French désuétude, from Latin dēsuētūdō, from dēsuētus, past participle of dēsuēscere, to put out of use : dē-, de- + suēscere, to become accustomed; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the French désuétude, from the Latin dēsuētūdo ("disuse").


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  • "The exaggerated exultation of the Futurists and Vorticists about machine-age death and destruction can partly be traced to the glut of pallid degeneration narratives on which they would have been drip-fed: dead-city poems by Rainer Maria Rilke and Henri de Régnier and Gabriele D’Annunzio, wispy lyrical novels and countless atmospheric travelogues that revisited the same tropes and clichés of urban exhaustion and desuetude."
    - Patrick McGuinness, "Bruges, Paris and the spectres of Symbolism," Times Literary Supplement, 20 Dec. 2006, online:,,25338-2512863,00.html

    September 23, 2007

  • The dictionaries define it as "a state of disuse or inactivity," but that does not capture the romantic nostalgia that saturates the word. The disuse is potent precisely because of a former, not-quite-forgotten usefulness, a past vitality. Desuetude is, as it were, an etude on the passing of time.

    September 23, 2007

  • Used often by Conrad.

    n.b. great commentary rolig.

    January 1, 2008

  • Could you please convince them to let you write the dictionary, rolig?

    March 14, 2008

  • Alas, desuetude has fallen into desuetude!

    May 25, 2008

  • what jaltcoh said, rolig!

    March 22, 2011