Simple Definition of innocuous
: not likely to bother or offend anyone
: causing no injury
Examples of innocuous in a sentence
Gossip is a relatively innocuous manifestation; fashioning one's self as eternally battling a white America mired in “racism” is a more noisome one. —John McWhorter, Wall Street Journal, 17 Sept. 2003
Small and innocuous looking, the habanero is uncontested as the hottest pepper in the world, the mother of all peppers. —Jim Robbins, Smithsonian, January 1992
And there was LeRoy … a somewhat gruesome but innocuous neighborhood dimwit who gave me the creeps when he sat down on the front stoop to listen to a bunch of us talking after school. —Philip Roth, New York Times Book Review, 18 Oct. 1987
The salamander, an innocuous amphibian like a big newt, was also regarded with a mixture of horror and awe. —David Attenborough, The First Eden, 1987
He told a few innocuous jokes.
<those innocuous lies we must tell every day if society is to remain civil>
Did You Know?
Innocuous has harmful roots - it comes to us from the Latin adjective innocuus, which was formed by combining the negative prefix in- with a form of the verb nocēre, meaning "to harm" or "to hurt." In addition, "nocēre" is related to the truly "harmful" words "noxious," "nocent," and even "nocuous." "Innocent" is from "nocēre" as well, although like "innocuous" it has the "in-" prefix negating the hurtful possibilities. "Innocuous" first appeared in print in 1598 with the clearly Latin-derived meaning "harmless or causing no injury" (as in "an innocuous gas"). The second sense is a metaphorical extension of the idea of injury, used to indicate that someone or something does not cause hurt feelings, or even strong feelings ("an innocuous book" or "innocuous issues," for example).
Origin of innocuous
Latin innocuus, from in- + nocēre (see innocent)
First Known Use: 1598
INNOCUOUS Defined for Kids
Definition of innocuous for Students
: not harmful <innocuous chemicals>
Medical Definition of innocuous
: producing no injury : not harmful
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up innocuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).