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This is where I want to apply that word:

"He discovered the meaninglessness of consumerism and work"

I looked in dictionaries and reverse dictionaries but for some reason I can't find a word that is easier to pronounce and shorter than meaninglessness.

Any suggestions?

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14 Answers 14

up vote 38 down vote accepted

You can use the word "futility".

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In your context, I think insignificance or triviality would fit well.

"He discovered the insignificance of consumerism and work."

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What about emptiness or vacuity?

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Unimportance is a decent synonym. These might work even better: emptiness, hollowness.

Then, there's always vanity; vanity is a good fit, I think, but it might throw people who are more familiar with the other very different – and probably more familiar – definition of the word:

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As a footnote, the OED defines vain as: "Devoid of real value, worth, or significance; idle, unprofitable, useless, worthless; of no effect, force, or power; fruitless, futile, unavailing."

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The refrain from the book of Ecclesiastes "vanity of vanities... all is vanity" is sometimes translated as "meaningless, meaningless... everything is meaningless." To that "he discovered the vanity of consumerism and work" certainly fits both in that sentence and in the sentiment of the Ecclesiastes, e.g. " What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 ESV) –  Ray May 31 '12 at 10:52
    
Also, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV) –  Ray May 31 '12 at 10:52
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How about inanity? It fits the definition, though it is somewhat obscure and easily confused with insanity.

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On a more satirical note you could go for something like: farce, sham, mockery, charade

These are shorter by virtue that they are nouns in their own right and not converted to one by adding 'ness'.

If these convey the right meaning, then I'd recommend 'mockery' for the consonance effect on both c/k and m:

"He discovered the mockery of consumerism and work"

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How about absurdity? It means lack of meaningfulness.

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It implies the reverse, an internal conflict, misinformation - absurd things do have a meaning, it's just a false, wrong one. –  SF. May 31 '12 at 9:17
    
@SF internal conflict implies inconsistency. Inconsistency implies meaninglessness. I agree that it has some meta-level meaning. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absurdity –  Memming May 31 '12 at 9:23
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Memming: Absurd is more than that. If an office requests you submit two documents, A and B, in any order, then the order is meaningless. If it requires you submit both, but document A can be only submitted after document B, and document B will be accepted only after you submitted document A, then the order is absurd. –  SF. May 31 '12 at 9:32
    
Nonsense also means lack of sense or meaning, e.g., in Logical Positivism, it can be said that anything but definition and tautology is "nonsense" or meaninglessness; thus theology and metaphysics are meaningless nonsense. This is of course a rather technical meaning, and likely not what is intended in the provided sentence –  Ray May 31 '12 at 12:58
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Not shorter, but easier to pronounce maybe: Inconsequentiality

in·con·se·quen·tial (n-kns-kwnshl, nkn-) adj. 1. Lacking importance. 2. Not following from premises or evidence; illogical. n. A triviality.

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You can use vain.
or use synonyms provided in bing.com

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Noun form would be vanity and it has somewhat other meaning. –  SF. Jun 1 '12 at 7:36
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Pointlessness also comes to mind.

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Check out this and choose your best fit word..

meaninglessness

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'Forthiness'??? That's not a word in any dictionary or variant of English that I'm familiar with. –  Erik Kowal May 7 at 3:50
    
@ErikKowal: results given by google translator. –  Java D May 21 at 5:39
    
Unfortunately, Google Translate is far from infallible. Googling "forthiness" leads me to conclude that it is a pseudo-English word that has some currency in the Indian sub-continent, but is not actually English in the sense that a native speaker of English would recognise and understand it. –  Erik Kowal May 21 at 5:52
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Vanity is the classical word for this occasion.

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity, and vexation of spirit. Ecclesiastes 1:14

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How about superficiality and pettiness?

superficiality: the quality or state of being superficial, i.e. presenting only an appearance without substance or significance

Petty implies contemptible insignificance, inferiority and small worth.

"He discovered the superficiality of consumerism and work."

"He discovered the pettiness of consumerism and work."

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Floccinaucinihilipilification or just floccipend could be an answer to that question. Meaning something that holds little value. If you're looking for a term which is a bit longer.

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