is pronounced ji-joon. It properly means ‘meagre, scanty; dull or uninteresting’ and is used primarily of ideas or arguments. It is derived from the Latin word jejunus meaning ‘fasting’, and originally meant ‘without food’ in English. The writer Kingsley Amis famously defended the traditional meaning of jejune against users of a newer meaning ‘puerile, childish, naive’, which first appeared in a play by George Bernard Shaw

• (His jejune credulity as to the absolute value of his concepts —Arms and the Man, 1989).

This meaning may have arisen by a false association with juvenile, and it is now the predominant one:

• Mother seemed jejune, at times, with her enthusiasms and her sense of mission —M. Howard, 1982

• There's no passion in your jejune little world, is there? —weblog, BrE 2005.

Despite currency, this is an awkward and cumbersome usage and it can usually be avoided in favour of readily available alternatives such as childish, infantile, or juvenile, and innocent, guileless, ingenuous, or naive. In some cases, it is impossible to tell which meaning is intended:

• Perhaps your superiors realized that your rhetoric is sloppy, tendentious, jejune and banal —weblog, AmE 2003.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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