The word “Listless” is an adjective that is used to refer to someone that is apathetic, not wanting to act, and not caring one way or another.
People started to use the word listless around the end of the 17th century. It comes from the Old English word “List,” which means “Desire,” and the suffix “-less,” that means without. That makes the literal translation of listless “Without desire.”
Listless is one of those words that a lot of people don’t know how to use correctly. The reason it can be so difficult is that it doesn’t translate exactly to any other English word. People often treat it as if it just means “Lazy.” And while a lazy person often is listless, they don’t mean exactly the same thing.
Someone who is listless is not only inactive, but goalless. A so-called lazy person may have goals, even if those goals are just to watch TV. A listless person may end up watching TV, but not because it’s really what they want to do. Rather, they do it because they don’t have anything else they want to do, and watching TV is easy.
Someone who is listless may actually be hard-working by nature. Take, for example, someone who has worked hard their whole live and has recently retired. They certainly aren’t lazy; they are just without an obvious goal. Someone who is listless probably feels adrift, like they don’t know which direction to go in.
If you want a look at a listless animal, check out Chunky the French Bulldog in this video clip. Chunky’s owner says this dog is naturally very listless: he sleeps, eats, and plays a bit, but otherwise, he seems like a pretty lazy fellow.
In this video, you can see just how listless (and grumpy) Chunky is. Chunky only seems to want to nap, so much so that he doesn’t even move to knock the toys from his head. It takes Chunky a while to work up the motivation to stand up and shake the toys off.
Other than a dirty look, Chunky doesn’t seem to care too much about the toys on his back. Like a lot of small, apathetic animals, Chunky may be slow to move, but he’s also slow to anger.