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

Definition of inadvertency

Keep scrolling for more

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, "Site Information Navigation," 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inadvertency

Time Traveler for inadvertency

Time Traveler

The first known use of inadvertency was in 1592

See more words from the same year

Statistics for inadvertency

Cite this Entry

“Inadvertency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Comments on inadvertency

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!