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

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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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inadvertency.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1592, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inadvertency was in 1592

Dictionary Entries Near inadvertency

Cite this Entry

“Inadvertency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​ad·​ver·​ten·​cy ˌin-əd-ˈvərt-ᵊn-sē How to pronounce inadvertency (audio)
plural inadvertencies

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