AskDefine | Define velleity

Dictionary Definition



1 a mere wish, unaccompanied by effort to obtain
2 volition in its weakest form

User Contributed Dictionary



From mediæval Latin velleitas, from velle.


  • /vɛ'liːɪti/


  1. The lowest degree of desire or volition, with no effort to act.
    • 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.
  2. A slight wish not followed by any effort to obtain.
    • 1919, The Times, 24 Oct 1919, p.12 col. A:
      The debate in the House of Lords would convert the impartial listener from any velleity towards single-chamber government.
    • 2006, Howard Jacobson, Kalooki Nights, Vintage 2007, p. 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?
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