insipid

adjective
in·​sip·​id | \ in-ˈsi-pəd How to pronounce insipid (audio) \

Definition of insipid

1 : lacking taste or savor : tasteless insipid food
2 : lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate, or challenge : dull, flat insipid prose

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Other Words from insipid

insipidity \ ˌin-​sə-​ˈpi-​də-​tē How to pronounce insipidity (audio) \ noun
insipidly \ in-​ˈsi-​pəd-​lē How to pronounce insipidly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for insipid

insipid, vapid, flat, jejune, banal, inane mean devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character. insipid implies a lack of sufficient taste or savor to please or interest. an insipid romance with platitudes on every page vapid suggests a lack of liveliness, force, or spirit. an exciting story given a vapid treatment flat applies to things that have lost their sparkle or zest. although well-regarded in its day, the novel now seems flat jejune suggests a lack of rewarding or satisfying substance. a jejune and gassy speech banal stresses the complete absence of freshness, novelty, or immediacy. a banal tale of unrequited love inane implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality. an inane interpretation of the play

Insipid vs. Incipient

There are those who claim that these two words are commonly confused, though the collected evidence in our files don’t support that claim (in edited prose, that is). If there is confusion, it is likely because incipient is sometimes used in constructions where its meaning is not clear.

Insipid is less common than incipient, but it is used more in general prose and with much more clarity than incipient is. Insipid means “weak,” and it can refer to people (“insipid hangers-on”), things (“what an insipid idea,” “painted the room an insipid blue,” “he gave his boss an insipid smile”), and specifically flavors or foods (“an insipid soup,” “the cocktail was insipid and watery”).

Incipient, on the other hand, is more common than insipid is and means “beginning to come into being or become apparent.” It has general use (“an incipient idea,” “incipient racial tensions”), but also has extensive specialized use in medicine (“an incipient disease”) and other scientific fields (“an incipient star in a distant galaxy”). But general use of incipient is sometime vague at best:

But devaluing grand slams to 3 1/2 runs has irked even the guys it was meant to pacify. "They're messing with the game," says incipient slugger Randy Johnson (three grannies already this spring). "Not to mention my RBI totals."
ESPN, 14 June 1999

Among my generation of aesthetes, bohemians, proto-dropouts, and incipient eternal students at Sydney University in the late 1950s, Robert Hughes was the golden boy.
— Clive James, The New York Review, 11 Jan. 2007

This menu looks traditional but embraces ingredients and ideas that have become incipient classics in American cuisine, such as portobello mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and mango.
— Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 30 Nov. 1995

Incipient is rarely used of people, and so the first example is an atypical use of the word. As for the other examples, can something that is just beginning to emerge be eternal, or a classic? Uses like this tend to confuse the reader.

If you find yourself unsure of which word to use, follow the rule that when referring to someone or something weak, use insipid, and when referring to something that is newly apparent or newly begun, use incipient.

Examples of insipid in a Sentence

While it is fashionable to write off that decade as an insipid time, one long pajama party, the '50s, in sport at least, were a revolutionary age. — Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 27 Dec. 1999–31 Jan. 2000 I'd climbed and fished in the emptiest reaches of the American West, but Alaska made the wilds of the lower 48 seem insipid and tame, a toothless simulacrum. — Jon Krakauer, Smithsonian, June 1995 By contrast, what we know as "popular" or "mass" culture has always conformed to the most insipid prejudices, and the least subtle formulations, of society. — Joyce Carol Oates, The Profane Art, 1983 One evening, over beers, Rasala complained about some insipid movie recently shown on TV. — Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine, 1981 The soup was rather insipid. an apple pie with a mushy, insipid filling that strongly resembled soggy cardboard
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Recent Examples on the Web

West Ham's list of strikers in the Gold-Sullivan era is, well, insipid. SI.com, "9 Premier League Signings That Are Definitely 100% Without a Doubt Going to Flop This Season," 20 Aug. 2019 In May the mayor herself, Catherine Pugh, was forced to resign from office after a scandal involving bulk purchases of her insipid children’s book by companies who did business with the city. The Economist, "Baltimore needs help to fix its crime problems," 1 Aug. 2019 The question in wet years is whether the harvest will be insipid because the fruits have had their sugars diluted. Washington Post, "Heavy rains can damage a vegetable garden — but the gardener can protect it," 24 July 2019 An insipid display in midfield with no penetration, reminiscent of the senior team's displays in the Nations League Finals. SI.com, "England Self-Destruct Once More - Why Oh Why Does This Keep Happening at Major Tournaments," 22 June 2019 In contrast, Cars 2 puts all of its energy into a bafflingly insipid mistaken-identity spy plot, entirely centered on Larry the Cable Guy, a.k.a. Allegra Frank, Vox, "All 21 Pixar movies, definitively ranked," 27 June 2019 But the ex-Stoke boss stated that the game was as good as over by half-time thanks to his side's insipid first 45 showing. SI.com, "Mark Hughes Hits Out at Poor Saints Showing in 3-0 Defeat to Fellow Strugglers West Ham," 1 Apr. 2018 Finally, all of Europe’s leaders must challenge the insipid neutrality that political liberalism has come to adopt over recent decades. Sophia Gaston, WSJ, "Europe’s Leaders Need a New Way of Talking About Immigration," 6 Sep. 2018 Both sides finished on four points, as Japan slumped to an insipid 1-0 defeat against Poland - and Senegal lost by the same scoreline to Colombia. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: Belgium vs Japan - Recent Form, Team News, Previous Encounter & More," 1 July 2018

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

1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for insipid

French & Late Latin; French insipide, from Late Latin insipidus, from Latin in- + sapidus savory, from sapere to taste — more at sage

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Statistics for insipid

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for insipid

The first known use of insipid was in 1609

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More Definitions for insipid

insipid

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of insipid

formal
: not interesting or exciting : dull or boring
: lacking strong flavor

insipid

adjective
in·​sip·​id | \ in-ˈsi-pəd How to pronounce insipid (audio) \

Kids Definition of insipid

1 : having little taste or flavor
2 : not interesting or challenging

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More from Merriam-Webster on insipid

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for insipid

Spanish Central: Translation of insipid

Nglish: Translation of insipid for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of insipid for Arabic Speakers

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