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 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 Still others objected to the idea of a list in the first place, noting its intrinsically arbitrary and invidious nature. New York Times, "‘Surprised and Dismayed’: Readers Respond to Our Best 25 Plays List," 22 June 2018 Considering painters and sculptors in groups generates invidious hierarchies—most innovative, most original—that can relegate accomplished but less than dazzling artists to the sidelines. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "Abstract Expressionism’s Forgotten Sculptor," 3 Apr. 2018 Skepticism concerning the function of a conductor results from invidious comparisons. Leon Botstein, WSJ, "Review: The Allure of ‘Maestros and Their Music’," 22 Dec. 2017 Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote as ever, concurred that there is nothing inherently invidious about a legislature considering partisanship. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Of Judges and Gerrymanders," 2 Oct. 2017 A corporate CEO fires an employee who has challenged the dogma that only invidious discrimination can explain gender percentages in job categories different from those of the larger population. Michael Barone, National Review, "What Identity Politics Hath Wrought," 18 Aug. 2017

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

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Invidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 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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Spanish Central: Translation of invidious

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