an·o·dyne | \ ˈa-nə-ˌdīn \

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



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?


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


the otherwise anodyne comments sounded quite inflammatory when taken out of context


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

Some of the more anodyne ideas, like getting rid of the Eastern and Western Conference construction and seeding playoffs 1-to-16, might improve the league but would likely do little to erode the inevitability of Warriors championships. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "The NBA isn't fair, you say? Maybe you're looking at it the wrong way," 4 July 2018 The germ of the conspiracy theory had to do with one of the most anodyne parts of my job. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "A Decade at Obama’s Side: An Interview With Ben Rhodes," 17 June 2018 Rather, Shatner, known for his roles as Captain Kirk on Star Trek and the eponymous T.J. Hooker, made anodyne statements about the future of currencies that existed solely as bits. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "William Shatner Promotes Solar-Powered Cryptocoin Mining," 14 June 2018 On Monday night, the team released an anodyne statement thanking their fans and not mentioning a word about the White House disinvite or Mr. Trump. Jason Gay, WSJ, "President Trump Needs to Be ALL CAPS," 5 June 2018 But even then Barr, 65, was far from an anodyne personality — as ABC surely knew. Daniel Arkin /, NBC News, "Roseanne Barr was a gamble for ABC long before Tuesday's cancellation," 29 May 2018 Sadr’s communications team tweets out his latest edicts, which are more likely to contain anodyne pronouncements about political coalition building rather than fire-and-brimstone warnings against American meddling. Thanassis Cambanis,, "How did Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr become a statesman? People just got used to him," 26 May 2018 Local governing councils also delay fracking projects amid lobbying by anti-fossil fuels groups, which freaked out at Mr. Clark’s anodyne statement Thursday. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Britain Discovers Shale Energy," 20 May 2018 And Sugarland’s rootsy jubilation is replaced with anodyne arena folk-rock. New York Times, "The Playlist: Prince’s Own ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ and 12 More New Songs," 20 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Big moves, really, for two people who are best known for being anodyne. Rebecca Farley,, "Priyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas Take Their PDA On A World Tour," 2 July 2018 But then there is the anodyne Orange County dialect in Dirty John. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "Seduce Me! The Untainted Sweet Sounds of Accent-Riddled Podcasts," 1 June 2018 Each spread offers an anodyne expression accompanied by a blocky, straightforward illustration that, when the next page unfolds, takes a cockamamie new form. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: All Creatures Great and Small," 8 June 2018 For an affair as necessarily anodyne as a royal wedding, the message was surprisingly political and surprisingly, well, religious. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Bishop Michael Curry just stole the show with his sermon at the Royal Wedding.," 20 May 2018 Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, and Troye Sivan are the perfect type of anodyne pop stars to protect Taylor. Rebecca Farley,, "Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour Comes To Hollywood–With A Selena Gomez Assist," 21 May 2018 For many, the Church of England’s anodyne theology have rendered it an irrelevant institution, an institution that — like the Royal Family itself — is comfortingly familiar, but ultimately irrelevant. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Bishop Michael Curry just stole the show with his sermon at the Royal Wedding.," 20 May 2018 And Wiig’s anodyne lilt as Sandra perfectly captures the push and pull between the system’s algorithmic instincts and the more human trappings of its operators. Michael Andor Brodeur,, "‘Sandra’ joins the podcast-to-screen wave," 10 May 2018 Several complainants said they were particularly taken aback by their L.U.O. experiences because of Liberty’s religious underpinnings, [and the] anodyne responses the students received from L.U.O. were frequently glossed with Christian bromides. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: New coalition aims to improve Democratic messaging against Trump," 18 Apr. 2018

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


1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for anodyne


Latin anodynos, from Greek anōdynos, from a- + odynē pain; probably akin to Old English etan to eat


see anodyne entry 1

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anodyne necklace



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Last Updated

16 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anodyne

The first known use of anodyne was in 1543

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More Definitions for anodyne



English Language Learners Definition of anodyne

: not likely to offend or upset anyone


an·o·dyne | \ ˈan-ə-ˌdīn \

Medical Definition of anodyne 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: serving to ease pain



Medical Definition of anodyne (Entry 2 of 2)

: a drug that allays pain

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Comments on anodyne

What made you want to look up anodyne? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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