invidious

adjective

in·​vid·​i·​ous in-ˈvi-dē-əs How to pronounce invidious (audio)
1
a
: 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
invidiously adverb
invidiousness noun

Did you know?

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 Masculine critical categories stopped being applied; other, more invidious ones crept in. Clare Bucknell, The New York Review of Books, 21 Oct. 2021 People have a right to work, attend school, obtain loans, use public transportation, vote, and secure housing free from invidious discrimination. WIRED, 6 Oct. 2022 There is much more to be said on backsliding, including about its invidious foreign policy consequences. Foreign Affairs, 19 Oct. 2021 Roberts regards race as an invidious distinction whose time has passed rather than as a living idea that can build group identity and solidarity. David Shih, The New Republic, 14 June 2023 So, customers are presented with an invidious choice between simplifying life by opting for a single vendor (and inviting lock-in) or developing multidisciplinary expertise with experts who understand the intricacies of every cloud and the bigger job of stitching it all together. Atif Khan, Forbes, 13 June 2022 As the human tragedy afflicting Ukraine and generating serious repercussions for global security continues to unfold, a great deal of thought and reflection should be spared for those who find themselves in the invidious position of not being able to avail themselves of either option. Gus Alexiou, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 His position, though, was invidious. Rory Smith, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2020 Farewell to the debt collectors, the invidious bureaucrats, the endless frustrations. David Grann, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2023

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of invidious was in 1606

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near invidious

Cite this Entry

“Invidious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/invidious. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

invidious

adjective
in·​vid·​i·​ous in-ˈvid-ē-əs How to pronounce invidious (audio)
1
: of an unpleasant or objectionable kind
invidious criticism
2
: of a kind to cause resentment
an invidious comparison
invidiously adverb
invidiousness noun

Legal Definition

invidious

adjective
in·​vid·​i·​ous in-ˈvi-dē-əs How to pronounce invidious (audio)
: 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
invidiously adverb
invidiousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on invidious

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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