in·​im·​i·​cal i-ˈni-mi-kəl How to pronounce inimical (audio)
: being adverse often by reason of hostility or malevolence
forces inimical to democracy
: having the disposition of an enemy : hostile
inimical factions
: reflecting or indicating hostility : unfriendly
his father's inimical glare
inimically adverb

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In inimical, one finds both a friend and an enemy. The word descends from Latin inimicus, which combines amicus, meaning "friend," with the negative prefix in-, meaning "not." In current English, inimical rarely describes a person, however. Instead, it is generally used to describe forces, concepts, or situations that are in some way harmful or hostile. For example, high inflation may be called "inimical" to economic growth. Inimicus is also an ancestor of enemy, whereas amicus gave English the much more congenial amicable (meaning "friendly" or "peaceful") and amiable (meaning "agreeable" or "friendly").

Examples of inimical in a Sentence

received an inimical response rather than the anticipated support laws designed to enhance national security that some regard as inimical to cherished freedoms
Recent Examples on the Web Patrick has argued at some length that liberalism winds up being inimical to precisely the kinds of values that a liberal society needs to flourish. mccloskey: There’s a lot of evidence that a society of equal permissions and increasing equality makes for better people. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 5 Jan. 2023 Politics seems to have become inimical to critical thinking, and nowhere is this more obvious than climate change. Andrew I. Fillat and Henry I. Miller, WSJ, 4 Nov. 2021 Translated for those who need it, during good times some of us develop bad habits, make lousy hires, commit capital less carefully, and all manner of other things inimical to progress. John Tamny, Forbes, 10 July 2022 Birmingham sketches out Russia’s mid-century byzantine chaos with a deft hand, up to the point in 1849 when Dostoevsky was sentenced to death for associating with the Petrashevsky Circle, a progressive group that advocated the ending of serfdom and other measures inimical to czarist autocracy. Washington Post, 3 Dec. 2021 Finally, much of her poetry made meticulous use of rhyme, which by the mid-20th century was disdained by the poetic establishment as inimical to the making of serious art. Margalit Fox, New York Times, 9 Jan. 2023 Equally important, not every individual or business develops bad habits, makes lousy hires, commits capital less carefully, and all manner of other things inimical to progress during the good times. John Tamny, Forbes, 10 July 2022 The pro-democracy revolution that toppled Sudan’s president is inimical to Mr. el-Sisi, a military general who has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power in a coup in 2013. Declan Walsh, New York Times, 22 Apr. 2023 There is little daylight between China’s messianic drive for socialist modernity and the triumphalist narratives at the end of the Cold War: Both present history as destiny, a predetermined course inimical to alternatives. Chang Che, The New Republic, 27 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin inimicalis, from Latin inimicus enemy — more at enemy

First Known Use

1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of inimical was in 1573


Dictionary Entries Near inimical

Cite this Entry

“Inimical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​im·​i·​cal in-ˈim-i-kəl How to pronounce inimical (audio)
: not friendly : hostile
: having a harmful effect
habits inimical to health

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