innocuous was our Word of the Day on 07/15/2015. Hear the podcast!
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
The history of school toilets and showers shows that even seemingly innocuous spaces can wield complex ideological meanings.
The baby-to-be has been the subject of speculation everywhere and not all of it has been as sweet and innocuous as Venus's comment.
But a big problem is lurking behind these seemingly innocuous developments: Too many broken things end up in landfills.
Meanwhile, Ryan, who is no stranger to getting publicly and righteously owned by teens, posted an innocuous-looking picture of the encounter to Instagram.
The innocuous play was more noteworthy because of the stink Mattingly made in Los Angeles last week when Corey Seager swung at a 3-0 pitch as the Dodgers led by five runs late in the game, as the Marlins did Sunday.
But none, Egan writes, have been more destructive than the innocuous-seeming zebra and quagga mussels.
Might just be an innocuous infestation, but this one was wrapped in a miniature Russian flag.
In small towns especially, any public action — even one as innocuous as her speaking to your new girlfriend at a community event — can have consequences for all parties concerned.
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 1598 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).
Origin and Etymology of innocuous
Latin innocuus, from in- + nocēre —see innocent
First Known Use: 1631
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
Definition of innocuous for Students
: not harmful innocuous chemicals
Medical Definition of innocuous
: producing no injury : not harmful
Seen and Heard
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