innocuous was our Word of the Day on 07/15/2015. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of innocuous in a Sentence
- Gossip is a relatively innocuous manifestation; fashioning one's self as eternally battling a white America mired in "racism" is a more noisome one. —John McWhorter, Wall Street Journal, 17 Sept. 2003
- Small and innocuous looking, the habanero is uncontested as the hottest pepper in the world, the mother of all peppers. —Jim Robbins, Smithsonian, January 1992
- And there was LeRoy … a somewhat gruesome but innocuous neighborhood dimwit who gave me the creeps when he sat down on the front stoop to listen to a bunch of us talking after school. —Philip Roth, New York Times Book Review, 18 Oct. 1987
- The salamander, an innocuous amphibian like a big newt, was also regarded with a mixture of horror and awe. —David Attenborough, The First Eden, 1987
He told a few innocuous jokes.
those innocuous lies we must tell every day if society is to remain civil
Recent Examples of innocuous from the Web
Sharing strangers’ likenesses online is a huge invasion of privacy, not to mention the sheer quantity of details Blair included that, while seemingly innocuous, could be — and ultimately were — identifying attributes.
While seemingly innocuous — another extension of a bloated award show that probably needs more subtraction than addition — this is clearly a signal that the Academy is trying to catch up to the times.
But the fairly innocuous incident turned into something much bigger when what seemed like the entirety of the Costa Rican squad came to their coach's aid, with Matić left squaring up against over a dozen Los Ticos players.
Even activities people consider relatively innocuous, such as hiking and wildlife viewing, strongly affected animals’ daily rhythms.
The posts attributed to Colangelo weren’t so innocuous, though.
The Facebook ad made a direct, if innocuous, appeal.
While effective, the most recent package sent by President Trump is especially innocuous, politically speaking, clawing back unneeded, unspent funds, some of which were appropriated as far back as 1993.
Personal details, while seemingly innocuous, can provide said bad guys with plenty of clues to begin hacking into your private life online.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'innocuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Look at the Prefix to Define innocuous
Innocuous has harmful roots – it comes to us from the Latin adjective innocuus, which was formed by combining the negative prefix in- with a form of the verb nocēre, meaning "to harm" or "to hurt." In addition, nocēre is related to the truly "harmful" words noxious, nocent, and even nocuous. Innocent is from nocēre as well, although like innocuous it has the in- prefix negating the hurtful possibilities. Innocuous first appeared in print in the early 17th century with the clearly Latin-derived meaning "harmless or causing no injury" (as in "an innocuous gas"). The second sense is a metaphorical extension of the idea of injury, used to indicate that someone or something does not cause hurt feelings, or even strong feelings ("an innocuous book" or "innocuous issues," for example).
INNOCUOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of innocuous for English Language Learners
: not likely to bother or offend anyone
: causing no injury
INNOCUOUS Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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