in·​vet·​er·​ate in-ˈve-t(ə-)rət How to pronounce inveterate (audio)
: confirmed in a habit : habitual
an inveterate liar
: firmly established by long persistence
the inveterate tendency to overlook the obvious
inveterately adverb

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The History of Inveterate

Like veteran, inveterate ultimately comes from Latin vetus, which means "old," and which led to the Latin verb inveterare ("to age"). That verb in turn gave rise eventually to the adjective inveteratus, the direct source of our adjective inveterate (in use since the 14th century). In the past, inveterate has meant "long-standing" or simply "old." For example, one 16th-century writer warned of "Those great Flyes which in the springe time of the yeare creepe out of inveterate walls." Today, inveterate most often applies to a habit, attitude, or feeling of such long existence that it is practically ineradicable or unalterable.

Choose the Right Synonym for inveterate

inveterate, confirmed, chronic mean firmly established.

inveterate applies to a habit, attitude, or feeling of such long existence as to be practically ineradicable or unalterable.

an inveterate smoker

confirmed implies a growing stronger and firmer with time so as to resist change or reform.

a confirmed bachelor

chronic suggests something that is persistent or endlessly recurrent and troublesome.

a chronic complainer

Examples of inveterate in a Sentence

his inveterate tendency to overlook the obvious he has an inveterate tendency to tell some very tall tales
Recent Examples on the Web As Swifties will know, Taylor Swift is an inveterate mom-meeter. Vulture, 24 Sep. 2023 Maybe the government does know all about it, and—never mind the inveterate leakiness of Washington intelligence—has managed to keep a near-perfect secret for close to a century. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 27 July 2023 The Rachmaninoff marathon also had a virtuosic appeal for Wang, an inveterate thrill-seeker who has learned to Jet Ski and dabbled in cryotherapy. Javier C. Hernández, New York Times, 26 Jan. 2023 For Leon Cannizzaro, preparing to leave office after 12 years as Orleans Parish district attorney, one defendant that was in his sights and got away is a particularly vexing one: the inveterate child molester and former Catholic deacon George Brignac. Ramon Antonio Vargas | Staff Writer,, 18 Dec. 2020 In the age of oversharing, yachts are a final sanctum of secrecy, even for some of the world’s most inveterate talkers. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 18 July 2022 Paul is, by her own account, an inveterate rule follower and homework finisher. Molly Fischer, The New Yorker, 24 Jan. 2023 The governor, an inveterate backseat driver, is going to miss being behind the wheel. Globe Columnist,, 8 Jan. 2023 Byrd was an inveterate advocate of the institutional power of Congress. Thomas Geoghegan, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inveterate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin inveteratus, from past participle of inveterare to age (transitive verb), from in- + veter-, vetus old — more at wether

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of inveterate was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near inveterate

Cite this Entry

“Inveterate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​vet·​er·​ate in-ˈvet-ə-rət How to pronounce inveterate (audio)
: firmly established by age or by long continuation
inveterate habits
: habitual sense 2
an inveterate complainer
inveterately adverb

Medical Definition


in·​vet·​er·​ate in-ˈvet-ə-rət, -ˈve-trət How to pronounce inveterate (audio)
: marked by long duration or frequent recurrence
inveterate bursitis
: confirmed in a habit : habitual sense 2
an inveterate smoker

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