anodyne

adjective
an·​o·​dyne | \ ˈa-nə-ˌdīn How to pronounce anodyne (audio) \

Definition of anodyne

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : serving to alleviate pain the anodyne properties of certain drugs
2 : not likely to offend or arouse tensions : innocuous … his speech contained a single anodyne reference to the man who preceded him.— John F. Burns

anodyne

noun

Definition of anodyne (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that soothes, calms, or comforts The sweetness of sojourn there … was an anodyne for the sorrows the pilgrims had endured …— Amy Kelly
2 : a drug that allays pain

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Did You Know?

Adjective

Anodyne came to English via Latin from Greek anōdynos ("without pain"), and it has been used as both an adjective and a noun ("something that relieves pain") since the 16th century. It has sometimes been used of things that dull or lull the senses and render painful experiences less so. Edmund Burke used it this way, for example, in 1790 when he referred to flattery as an "anodyne draft of oblivion" that renders one (in this particular case, the deposed king Louis XVI) forgetful of the flatterer's true feelings. In the 1930s, a newer second sense began appearing in our vocabulary. Now, in addition to describing things that dull pain, anodyne can also refer to that which doesn't cause discomfort in the first place.

Examples of anodyne in a Sentence

Adjective the otherwise anodyne comments sounded quite inflammatory when taken out of context Noun the dentist prescribed an anodyne after the root canal as an anodyne for the stress and superficiality of the modern world, there's nothing better than reading a literary classic of substance and insight
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Another patient leaves an anodyne message requesting medication refills. Danielle Ofri, The New Yorker, "A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary," 1 Oct. 2020 Initially the murals arranged by Paint the Void were anodyne by design. Ryan Kost, SFChronicle.com, "What will happen to the plywood murals of 2020?," 27 Sep. 2020 Western consumers used to be indifferent enough to Chinese politics that Western executives did not have to factor it into their business plans — especially for something as seemingly anodyne as a children’s film reboot. Eva Dou, Washington Post, "Disney’s ‘Mulan’ faces criticism for filming in China’s Xinjiang region," 8 Sep. 2020 The narrator is to have no part in the suicide other than offering emotional support—but what could such an anodyne phrase mean in the context of imminent death? Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Designated Mourner," 4 Sep. 2020 An intermission came in the form of Ronna Romney McDaniel, who was permitted to give a fairly anodyne Republican adoration of Trump as anti-tax and pro-trade. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "Republicans Invite America to Play the “Dear Leader” Lottery," 24 Aug. 2020 The somewhat anodyne message of solidarity — which was later removed — unleashed a fire hose of acrimony. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "China’s war with the NBA and the frailty of the liberal order," 9 Oct. 2019 The same theme was sounded by global-warming rock star Greta Thunberg and by Britain’s Prince Charles (as always, a lagging indicator of fashionable pseudo-intellectual comment on any topic) in his otherwise anodyne Earth Day message. Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, "How Not to Celebrate Earth Day," 22 Apr. 2020 That anodyne phrase, that language of indifference without ownership, upheld so much silence in so many places. Anne Diebel, The New York Review of Books, "The Good Guy," 28 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Peterson pauses, running his hand along the blue aluminum-anodyne actuator machined to match the length of Daniel’s right thigh. John Brant, Popular Mechanics, "At the Bionic Olympics, Engineers and Athletes Make Miracles," 27 Apr. 2020 This is the confluence that defines the spectacle: statistics, like photographs, have a kind of moral authority, one whose meaning may repel us but one that nevertheless encourages certainty, and thus anodyne. Shannon Pufahl, The New York Review of Books, "Numbering the Dead," 21 Apr. 2020 Ten years ago, lazy auto writers used the Toyota Camry as shorthand for anodyne transportation, a car for people who think of cars as appliances. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "2020 Nissan Rogue SL Is the Camry of Crossovers," 13 Mar. 2020 The result of all that rulemaking and political sensitivity is the anodyne Covid-19. Adam Rogers, Wired, "Coronavirus Has a Name: The Deadly Disease Is Covid-19," 11 Feb. 2020 To yield to the soft tyranny of transgender pronouns is to pretend that gender dysphoria is an anodyne lifestyle on which societal legitimacy should be conferred, not a psychological malady requiring compassion and psychological treatment. Josh Hammer, National Review, "The Fifth Circuit Rejects the Lie of Transgender Pronouns," 27 Jan. 2020 As head of state, the British monarch is expected to remain publicly neutral on political matters, and the queen’s addresses tend to be broad, anodyne and even a little opaque. New York Times, "Queen’s Christmas Message Acknowledges a ‘Bumpy’ Year for U.K.," 24 Dec. 2019 Santa Clausification’—the softening of a public figure’s profile into something more anodyne and broadly acceptable. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Greta Thunberg," 25 Sep. 2019 Even gluttony can be spun as anodyne, a form of self-care. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "The Service That Makes Shame a Productivity Hack," 2 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anodyne.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of anodyne

Adjective

1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for anodyne

Adjective

borrowed from Latin anōdynus "allaying pain," borrowed from Greek anṓdynos "free from pain, causing no pain, harmless, allaying pain," from an- an- + -ōdynos, adjective derivative (with compositional lengthening) of odýnē "pain," of uncertain origin

Note: In earlier etymological dictionaries (Frisk, Chantraine), odýnē is taken be a derivative, with a heteroclitic suffix *-ur-/*-un-, of the verbal base *h1ed- "eat" (see eat entry 1), with the assumed change of e > o by vowel assimilation before a following -u-; allegedly comparable are Armenian erkn "labor pains, grief," Old Irish idu "pain, pangs of childbirth." More recently a different hypothesis proposes that the base of odýnē is a verbal root *h3ed- "bite, sting," seen perhaps in Lithuanian úodas "gnat" (< *h3od-o-). (See R. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2010.)

Noun

borrowed from Latin anōdynum "something allaying pain," borrowed from Greek anṓdynon "freedom from pain," noun derivative of anṓdynos "free from pain, causing no pain, harmless, allaying pain" — more at anodyne entry 1

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Time Traveler for anodyne

Time Traveler

The first known use of anodyne was in 1543

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Last Updated

8 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Anodyne.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anodyne. Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for anodyne

anodyne

adjective
How to pronounce anodyne (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of anodyne

formal : not likely to offend or upset anyone

anodyne

adjective
an·​o·​dyne | \ ˈan-ə-ˌdīn How to pronounce anodyne (audio) \

Medical Definition of anodyne

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: serving to ease pain

anodyne

noun

Medical Definition of anodyne (Entry 2 of 2)

: a drug that allays pain

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