in·​vid·​i·​ous | \ in-ˈvi-dē-əs How to pronounce invidious (audio) \

Definition of invidious

1a : of an unpleasant or objectionable nature : obnoxious invidious remarks
b : of a kind to cause harm or resentment an invidious comparison
2 : tending to cause discontent, animosity, or envy the invidious task of arbitration
3 : envious

Other Words from invidious

invidiously adverb
invidiousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for invidious



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Fittingly, "invidious" is a relative of "envy." Both are descendants of "invidia," the Latin word for "envy," which in turn comes from invidēre, meaning "to look askance at or "to envy." ("Invidious" descends from "invidia" by way of the Latin adjective invidiosus, meaning "envious, whereas "envy" comes to English via the Anglo-French noun envie.) These days, however, "invidious" is rarely used as a synonym for "envious." The preferred uses are primarily pejorative, describing things that are unpleasant (such as "invidious choices" and "invidious tasks") or worthy of scorn ("invidious remarks" or "invidious comparisons").

Examples of invidious in a Sentence

The boss made invidious distinctions between employees. inevitably, his remarkable success attracted the invidious attention of the other sales representatives
Recent Examples on the Web Most Justices in Wygant seemed to consider racial bias to be less invidious in hiring than firing decisions. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 17 Aug. 2022 Infidels are by definition misguided and prone to ignorant, invidious ideas. Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ, 25 Aug. 2022 Closer to home, the mechanisms of repression are less heavy-handed, but no less invidious in their intent. Laura Beers, CNN, 6 May 2022 Doniger’s invidious contrast of the poetic quality of the work between its first and second books is as much a consequence of the text itself as of the poetic prowess of the translators and editors involved. Wendy Doniger, The New York Review of Books, 7 Apr. 2022 As to what happens next, the Australian government has put itself in an invidious position. Tim Soutphommasane And Marc Stears, CNN, 12 Jan. 2022 Those invidious assumptions are reflected these days all over TV and in the movies., 22 Oct. 2021 His writing demystifies the world before us, dispelling the cloud created by the chaotic motivations and invidious narcissism of the market. Tiana Reid, Vulture, 31 Aug. 2021 Of course, comparisons to Davidson’s greatest hits are not just invidious but unfair to Ritchie. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of invidious

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for invidious

Latin invidiosus envious, invidious, from invidia envy — more at envy

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The first known use of invidious was in 1606

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in victory


in view

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Invidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for invidious


in·​vid·​i·​ous | \ in-ˈvi-dē-əs How to pronounce invidious (audio) \

Legal Definition of invidious

: of, relating to, or being discrimination that arises from the creation of a classification that is arbitrary, irrational, or capricious and not related to a legitimate purpose

Other Words from invidious

invidiously adverb
invidiousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on invidious

Nglish: Translation of invidious for Spanish Speakers


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