Some of my British friends use the word 'tedious' to mean 'annoying.' A recent example:

The museums in Oslo aren't open on Mondays. That's a bit tedious.

I'm a native American English speaker and unfamiliar with this usage. I looked it up and only found the definition I'm familiar with :

Too long, slow, or dull; tiresome or monotonous

Is this a British variation on the definition that is known in the United Kingdom but that hasn't entered dictionaries yet?

  • 2
    I've always understood that usage to imply the sense of "tiresome", as in "I'm tired of it; I've had enough; I wish it would stop".
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 17:04
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    @DanBron, which usage do mean? In my example sentence, it doesn't mean "tiresome" -- there's nothing tiresome about museums that aren't open
    – Mar Zum
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 17:07
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    Collins gets as far as << British English: tedious: If you describe something such as a job, task, or situation as tedious, you mean it is boring and rather frustrating. [bolding mine] Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 18:25
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    It seems that people who say this are over-generalizing. It's generally annoying to perform a tedious task, so they think of tedious as referring to this resulting annoyance, not the boredom that causes it.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 21:56
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    I note that Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Slang & Unconventional English, fifth edition (1961) lists a meaning of the noun bore (from 1778) as "A boring thing, an annoyance"; and a meaning of the verb bore (from 1925) as "To annoy." Perhaps the lesson here is that the distance between ennui and annoyance may be shorter than we suspect. In any case, I haven't seen or heard tedious used with quite the same implication of "annoying" in U.S. English as in the OP's quoted example.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


I was finally able to access the Oxford English Dictionary, and Def. #2 is as follows:

  1. Wearisome in general; annoying, irksome, troublesome, disagreeable, painful. Obs. exc. dial.

This does confirm that this is a known meaning then, but is limited to dialects.


"Is this a British variation on the definition that is known in the United Kingdom but that hasn't entered dictionaries yet?" - No. As a native speaker of British English my interpretation of the example given is stating that the lack of open museums is rather dull and implying the available alternatives may not be as interesting. Whether or not that is 'annoying' per se would depend on the individual.


My answer is based on US Military theaters of operation around the world. I speak two other languages besides English (Spanish and Korean). My Korean is terrible. My Spanish is rusty. At one time I conducted instruction in Spanish at IAAFA (Inter-American Air Forces Academy, Panama, RP). Exposure to cultures is really just that - exposure. With it came awareness of the culture. With the awareness came thought processes, i.e. traditions, likes, dislikes, predictable behavior (especially in the language), it reveals a lot about the "natives" thinking. In this sense the use of 'tedious' is vernacular. If in Los Angeles, you might hear "sh__t! In New York you might hear "fu__k!' Anywhere one travels in the world today, and, they stay long enough in one place, they'll learn the dirty words first.... because those are the ones they'll hear most often (trust me).

  • 1
    Is any of this related to the question?
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 3:00

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