in·​ad·​ver·​tent | \ ˌi-nəd-ˈvər-tᵊnt How to pronounce inadvertent (audio) \

Definition of inadvertent

1 : unintentional an inadvertent omission
2 : not focusing the mind on a matter : inattentive

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Other Words from inadvertent

inadvertently adverb

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 inadvertent in a Sentence

an inadvertent encounter with a rattlesnake in the brush
Recent Examples on the Web Breaches of the Data Protection Act are common place, and often inadvertent. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "If you’re an iPhone owner in this country, Google might owe you $1,000," 29 Apr. 2021 José Berríos of Minnesota worked 5 2/3 innings, permitting two runs and five hits, but was forced to leave the game after an inadvertent second mound visit by manager Rocco Baldelli. Brian Dulik, ajc, "Indians top Twins 5-3 in 10 innings on Luplow's 2-run homer," 27 Apr. 2021 Although the information is supposed to be confidential, the groups say that the state has in the past made inadvertent disclosures. Ariane De Vogue, CNN, "Justices skeptical of California nonprofit disclosure law," 26 Apr. 2021 An inadvertent mark, or an intentional move to connect the arrow that indicates a voter's choice, could cause the ballot to be rejected. Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, "Blue ink, black ink, red ink: Why ink color matters when handling Arizona ballots," 23 Apr. 2021 Inauthentic content—both inadvertent and deliberately deceptive—is increasing. Dan Ikenson, Forbes, "Restoring Public Trust In Technology And Media Is Infrastructure Investment," 15 Apr. 2021 And that misadventure pales in comparison with Deutsche Bank AG’s inadvertent transfer of $33.4 billion to one of its outside accounts in 2018. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "If $1.2 million suddenly showed up in your Fidelity account, would you spend it?," 13 Apr. 2021 Still, the lapse spoke to the potential for the contact import tool to access sensitive data and the need to look carefully for bugs and inadvertent behavior in the feature. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Facebook Had Years to Fix the Flaw That Leaked 500M Users' Data," 9 Apr. 2021 The ground connection for the front passenger air bag may not be mounted properly, which could result in an inadvertent deployment. Detroit Free Press, "Car recalls for February 25-March 4," 6 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inadvertent.' 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 inadvertent

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for inadvertent

back-formation from inadvertence

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Time Traveler for inadvertent

Time Traveler

The first known use of inadvertent was in 1653

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Statistics for inadvertent

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inadvertent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for inadvertent



English Language Learners Definition of inadvertent

: not intended or planned


in·​ad·​ver·​tent | \ ˌi-nəd-ˈvər-tᵊnt How to pronounce inadvertent (audio) \

Kids Definition of inadvertent

: not intended or deliberate : accidental an inadvertent mistake

Other Words from inadvertent

inadvertently adverb

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Comments on inadvertent

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