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From Middle English lystles, equivalent to list (desire) +‎ -less. Compare German lustlos and Dutch lusteloos (lethargic, listless). Doublet of lustless.


  • IPA(key): /ˈlɪstləs/
  • (file)


listless (comparative more listless, superlative most listless)

  1. Lacking energy, enthusiasm, or liveliness.
    • 1818, [Mary Shelley], chapter 18, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [Macdonald and Son] for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, →OCLC:
      I passed whole days on the lake alone in a little boat, watching the clouds and listening to the rippling of the waves, silent and listless.
    • 1861, Charlotte M. Yonge, chapter 6, in The Stokesley Secret:
      What an entirely different set of beings were those Stokesley children in lesson-time. . . . Poor, listless, stolid, deplorable logs, with bowed backs and crossed ankles, pipy voices and heavy eyes!
    • 1901, William Somerset Maugham, chapter 21, in The Hero:
      The scene with Mrs. Wallace had broken his spirit, and he was listless now, indifferent to what happened.
    • 2005 November 29, Aryn Baker, “John Hardy: Bali Guy”, in Time:
      Listless, inattentive, distracted,” he recited. “A daydreamer. Tries his best, but is too slow.”

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