in·​ad·​ver·​ten·​cy | \ ˌi-nəd-ˈvər-tᵊn(t)-sē How to pronounce inadvertency (audio) \
plural inadvertencies

Definition of inadvertency

The Formation of Inadvertent

It may look innocent, but inadvertent belongs to a class of words that provoke anger in many people who care about language – to wit, the back-formation. Bucking the usual trend in which longer words are formed from shorter ones by the addition of an affix (for example, superficiality from superficial), back-formations are created by clipping off a piece of a longer word; in this case, inadvertent was back-formed from inadvertence or inadvertency. A fair number of these words populate English, including brainwash (from brainwashing), complicit (from complicity), escalate (from escalator), and televise (from television). Certain back-formations, such as liaise (which comes from liaison) rub some people the wrong way. While they are under no obligation to accept liaise, there is nothing inherently wrong with back-formations; they are just another way our language has of creating new words.

Examples of inadvertency in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Again, what is lost is inadvertency and the element of surprise — the sense that the power of the image is independent of the photographer’s plans. Teju Cole, New York Times, 18 Oct. 2016

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

First Known Use of inadvertency

1592, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of inadvertency was in 1592

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Cite this Entry

“Inadvertency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.

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