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



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

And so, this statement, that seems very anodyne and something that nobody could be against, actually wound up being used to devalue what the Black Lives Matter movement was telling us. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "A fatal police shooting has upended Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign. Here's what you need to know.," 24 June 2019 My disputant’s particular problem wasn’t with Carpenter’s voice but with its anodyne middle-of-the-road context (both musically and culturally). Wesley Stace, WSJ, "‘Voices’ Review: Singers in the Key of Life," 20 Dec. 2018 That anodyne language masks the conflict within the administration over how Obama should respond. Philip Bump, Washington Post, "Trump again declines to criticize a questionable election," 20 Mar. 2018 On the face of it, Pruitt’s remarks are relatively anodyne. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Scott Pruitt’s parting words to Trump: you are president “because of God’s providence”," 6 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But environmental groups fear that Abe and the G-20 would produce an anodyne communique that failed to grasp the seriousness of the crisis facing the planet. Washington Post, "Japan aims for ‘harmony’ at G-20. Is it sidestepping climate change?," 28 June 2019 Andreas writes, dismayed by the critical desire for stylistic polish, for harmony and nuance, for an anodyne realism that manipulates the reader into positions of quasi-philosophical profundity. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, "‘Dismembered, Relocated, Rearranged’," 6 June 2019 Such films taught audiences how to keep Christmas in an anodyne manner that was designed not to give offense. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "How the Movies Invented Christmas," 20 Dec. 2018 During this dark time, vodka was Caron's anodyne; her histrionics were tabloid fodder; and a song of love was a sad song, indeed. Lili Rosenkranz, Town & Country, "T&C Family Album: Leslie Caron," 17 July 2014 Instead, they have been given a variety of anodyne, disposable names like Spotted Zebra (kids clothes), Good Brief (men’s underwear), Wag (dog food) and Rivet (home furnishings). New York Times, "Amazon, the Brand Buster," 23 June 2018 So as anodyne as the choice of artists might be, tonight’s Vance Joy show masks a surprisingly risky move for a pair of companies that are at the forefront of a larger conversation about privacy and user safety. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "With Venues, Oculus and Facebook Push Social VR Into New Territory," 30 May 2018 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

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

Adjective and Noun

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

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Dictionary Entries near anodyne





anodyne necklace



Statistics for anodyne

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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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

formal : not likely to offend or upset anyone


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

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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