insipid

play
adjective in·sip·id \in-ˈsi-pəd\

Definition of insipid

  1. 1 :  lacking taste or savor :  tasteless <insipid food>

  2. 2 :  lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate, or challenge :  dull, flat <insipid prose>

insipidity

play \ˌin-sə-ˈpi-də-tē\ noun

insipidly

play \in-ˈsi-pəd-lē\ adverb

Examples of insipid in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. One evening, over beers, Rasala complained about some insipid movie recently shown on TV. —Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine, 1981

  5. The soup was rather insipid.

  6. <an apple pie with a mushy, insipid filling that strongly resembled soggy cardboard>

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.

Origin and Etymology of insipid

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


First Known Use: 1609

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners

insipid

play
adjective in·sip·id \in-ˈsi-pəd\

Definition of insipid for English Language Learners

  • : not interesting or exciting : dull or boring

  • : lacking strong flavor


INSIPID Defined for Kids

insipid

play
adjective in·sip·id \in-ˈsi-pəd\

Definition of insipid for Students

  1. 1 :  having little taste or flavor

  2. 2 :  not interesting or challenging



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