invective

noun
in·vec·tive | \in-ˈvek-tiv \

Definition of invective 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : insulting or abusive language : vituperation

2 : an abusive expression or speech

invective

adjective

Definition of invective (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or characterized by insult or abuse

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from invective

Adjective

invectively adverb
invectiveness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for invective

Noun

abuse, vituperation, invective, obloquy, billingsgate mean vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval. abuse, the most general term, usually implies the anger of the speaker and stresses the harshness of the language. scathing verbal abuse vituperation implies fluent and sustained abuse. a torrent of vituperation invective implies a comparable vehemence but suggests greater verbal and rhetorical skill and may apply to a public denunciation. blistering political invective obloquy suggests defamation and consequent shame and disgrace. subjected to obloquy and derision billingsgate implies practiced fluency and variety of profane or obscene abuse. directed a stream of billingsgate at the cabdriver

Did You Know?

Adjective

Invective originated in the 15th century as an adjective meaning "of, relating to, or characterized by insult or abuse." In the early 16th century, it appeared in print as a noun meaning "an example of abusive speech." Eventually, the noun developed a second sense applying to abusive language as a whole. Invective comes to us from the Middle French word invectif, which in turn derives from Latin invectivus, meaning "reproachful, abusive." (Invectivus comes from Latin invectus, past participle of the verb invehere, one form of which means "to assail with words.") Invective is similar to abuse, but it tends to suggest not only anger and vehemence but verbal and rhetorical skill. It sometimes implies public denunciation, as in "blistering political invective."

Examples of invective in a Sentence

Noun

a barrage of racist invective hurled curses and invective at the driver who heedlessly cut them off in traffic

Adjective

an overbearing, bullying boss who is fond of sending invective e-mails to long-suffering assistants
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Racist invective, misogyny, rape and death threats, all hurled at her constantly, unrelentingly, transforming what had been a Cinderella story — The Last Jedi was Tran’s first major film —into a modern-day nightmare. Marc Bernardin, The Hollywood Reporter, "Toxic Fandom Is Killing 'Star Wars'," 11 June 2018 Today, a president tweets invective at his enemies and a member of Congress calls for more than civil disobedience. Randy Blaser, chicagotribune.com, "Our country needs to get back to the basics – it's all about equality," 28 June 2018 Infuriated, Herbert launched a stream of invective at the lad who served him. Robert Mitchell, Washington Post, "A hungry congressman didn’t get the breakfast he ordered. So he shot the waiter.," 23 June 2018 Skilled as Trump has been at deploying suspense, misdirection and invective to his advantage over the last 15 months, the Trump reality show appears closer than ever to colliding with reality itself. Brian Bennett, Time, "Donald Trump Relied on Michael Cohen to Weather the Storm. Now The President Is On His Own," 12 Apr. 2018 And in tweets available for anyone to see, the man suspected of killing five at a Maryland newspaper this week broadcast his hate with a stream of invectives. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Capital Gazette gunman constantly harassed journalists on Twitter. Why wasn't he stopped?," 29 June 2018 Private Facebook groups have devolved into furious comment threads and invective. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "Tipping the pay scales: Initiative 77 could dramatically alter D.C. restaurant culture," 16 June 2018 Fraud, cried his detractors, among them the illustrious Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, hardly a paragon of scientific rectitude, who littered his copy of the book with invectives. Christoph Irmscher, WSJ, "‘The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel’ Review: The Zoologist as Artist," 13 Apr. 2018 Roseanne Conner was quite a few steps removed from the actress who posted racist invective on her Twitter feed (behavior Barr is now apologizing for without fully admitting fault). David Sims, The Atlantic, "What Does ABC Want From The Conners?," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Hytner tends to stay away from the self-revealing (except for his run-in with Harold Pinter, which is so invective-strewn it can’t be reproduced here without making the paragraph look like a night sky of asterisks). Peter Lewis, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Balancing Acts' author Nicholas Hytner looks back at a successful career at London’s National Theatre," 8 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'invective.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of invective

Noun

1523, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for invective

Adjective

Middle English invectif, from Middle French, from Latin invectivus, from invectus, past participle of invehere

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about invective

Listen to Our Podcast about invective

Statistics for invective

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for invective

The first known use of invective was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for invective

invective

noun

English Language Learners Definition of invective

: harsh or insulting words : rude and angry language

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on invective

What made you want to look up invective? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!