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

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Other Words from invidious

invidiously adverb
invidiousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for invidious



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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 The Wirecard fraud has again brought to public attention the invidious negligence of some auditors. Karthik Ramanna, Fortune, "The real problem with accounting firms: They don’t reward auditors that challenge clients," 11 July 2020 Tech companies are increasingly facing the invidious choice of which side of the divide to be on. The Economist, "Schumpeter Can Zoom be trusted with users’ secrets?," 20 June 2020 In many respects, Mr Trump has placed military leaders in an invidious position. The Economist, "No longer his generals America’s top brass break with Donald Trump," 7 June 2020 Because there is only one motive—to realize a maximum of benefit at a minimum of cost—those who do not flourish are losers in an invidious, Darwinian sense. Marilynne Robinson, The New York Review of Books, "What Kind of Country Do We Want?," 27 May 2020 We are increasingly divided by misinformation and invidious messaging. Jason Karlawish, STAT, "A pandemic plan was in place. Trump abandoned it — and science — in the face of Covid-19," 17 May 2020 Mr Trump’s behaviour forced on Congress an invidious choice. The Economist, "On trial Trump, impeachment and American democracy," 12 Dec. 2019 And people are pretty good at seeing their own behavior in the best light and pretty bad at seeing an invidious pattern to their assumptions. New York Times, "What Should I Do About My Racially Obtuse Co-Worker?," 2 July 2019 Monday’s ruling won’t open the floodgates to invidious discrimination as critics imagine. Ryan T. Anderson, WSJ, "Discrimination Law Isn’t Supposed to ‘Punish the Wicked’," 6 June 2018

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.

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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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Time Traveler for invidious

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The first known use of invidious was in 1606

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Invidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce invidious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of invidious

formal : unpleasant and likely to cause bad feelings in other people


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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with invidious

Spanish Central: Translation of invidious

Nglish: Translation of invidious for Spanish Speakers

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