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

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 But in a strange twist – and with the almost inadvertent help of a Florida grandmother – that is exactly what's happened. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 7 Feb. 2022 The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has been notified by Seabrook Nuclear Power Station that an inadvertent siren activation happened July 12, 2022. Globe Staff,, 12 July 2022 The actor has quickly emerged as the season's breakout star thanks to his portrayal of Eddie, a heavy metal high schooler and Hellfire Club leader forced to go on the run after his inadvertent involvement in a classmate's mysterious death. Giovana Gelhoren,, 8 July 2022 In Round 2, an inadvertent eye poke led to a timeout and referee examination. Danny Segura, USA TODAY, 3 July 2022 The problem is that increasing the amount of opioids transported via the mail could create some inadvertent problems. Ike Brannon, Forbes, 1 July 2022 Even the facts are now in question, and that's a very worrisome trend, that idea that there may be levels of mechanisms of control here, even inadvertent ones. Nick Romano,, 27 June 2022 Russian forces operate in northern Syria, and U.S. and Russian military officials regularly coordinate with each other to avoid inadvertent collisions. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, 16 June 2022 However, an inadvertent effect of these back-to-back moves in May is growing panic—and prices—for other grains. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 27 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of inadvertent was in 1653

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inadvertent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for inadvertent


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

More from Merriam-Webster on inadvertent

Nglish: Translation of inadvertent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inadvertent for Arabic Speakers


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