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- The lowest degree of desire or volition; a total lack of effort to act.
- 1870, James Russell Lowel, Rousseau and the Sentimentalists:
- Rousseau showed through life a singular proneness for being convinced by his own eloquence; he was always his own first convert; and this reconciles his power as a writer with his weakness as a man. He and all like him mistake emotion for conviction, velleity for resolve, the brief eddy of sentiment for the midcurrent of ever-gathering faith in duty that draws to itself all the affluents of conscience and will, and gives continuity and purpose to life.
- 1973, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow:
- This connoisseuse of “splendid weaknesses”, run not by any lust or even velleity but by vacuum: by the absence of human hope.
- A slight wish not followed by any effort to obtain.
- 1896, George Saintsbury, chapter II, in A History of Nineteenth Century Literature:
- All were born late enough to breathe the atmosphere of the new poetry young; all had poetical velleities, and a certain amount, if not of originality, of capacity to write poetry. But they were not poets; they were only poetical curiosities.
- 1917, T[homas] S[tearns] Eliot, “[Prufrock and Other Observations.] Portrait of a Lady.”, in Collected Poems 1909–1935, London: Faber & Faber […], published September 1954, OCLC 858724037, page 16:
- —And so the conversation slips / Among velleities and carefully caught regrets / Through attenuated tones of violins / Mingled with remote cornets / And begins.
- 1919, The Times, column A, page 12:
- The debate in the House of Lords would convert the impartial listener from any velleity towards single-chamber government.
- 1995, Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age, Bantam Books, published 2008, page 47:
- The difficulty of getting here prevented people from coming on a velleity.
- 2006, Howard Jacobson, Kalooki Nights, Vintage, published 2007, page 372:
- Who could have imagined then, in Crumpsall, that the ancient Jewish hope, ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ – for so long more a velleity than a hope, the feeblest and most unanticipated of anticipations – would be realised in their lifetime and that they would be able to stand here, under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers, but otherwise unimpeded, together?
lowest degree of desire
slight wish with no effort to obtain