1. any cautious, defeatist, or cynical attitude based on the belief that the individual and human institutions exist in a hostile or indifferent universe or society.
  2. an oppressive awareness of the futility of trying to improve one’s status in life or in society.

1943, a word from Nietzsche, from German ressentiment, from French ressentiment (see resentment). The French word also was borrowed as obsolete English resentiment (16c.) “feeling or sense (of something); state of being deeply affected by (something); resentment.”

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