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

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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 Erecting private obstacles blocking public access to state laws is especially invidious. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: A lawsuit aims to stop private firms from claiming copyrights on California laws," 18 Mar. 2021 The statement compared Israel’s border wall to the Berlin Wall and drew indirect but invidious analogies to apartheid, slavery and Nazism. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "What Raphael Warnock Believes About Israel," 16 Dec. 2020 Even California’s liberal electorate signaled last month that crude and invidious affirmative action should remain a thing of the past. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "A Nasdaq Chief’s Diversity Stunt," 8 Dec. 2020 This fusion of racial grievance and post-racialism created a toxic brew, poisonous to the ongoing efforts to contest white supremacy and protective of the invidious status quo that the Voting Rights Act had tried to interrupt. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "Don’t Reboot the 2016 Horror Show," 23 Oct. 2020 The more invidious reason to claim that people are born with certain traits is to avoid having to help people do any better. Eugenia Cheng, Wired, "How to Undo Gender Stereotypes in Math—With Math!," 25 Aug. 2020 Again and again, the metaphor gets invoked by leading politicians, typically as a warning against a hidden, invidious threat. Ben Zimmer, WSJ, "‘Trojan Horse’: A Strategy That Keeps Hiding in Plain Sight," 21 Aug. 2020 When Britain’s death toll from the virus first surpassed those of other European countries in May, Johnson argued that country-to-country comparisons were invidious because governments collect and analyze data differently., "UK has Europe’s worst surge in deaths during pandemic, study says," 31 July 2020 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

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

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Invidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for invidious



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

More from Merriam-Webster on invidious

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Nglish: Translation of invidious for Spanish Speakers

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