1 : an abusive expression or speech
2 : insulting or abusive language : vituperation
Did You Know?
Invective originated in the 15th century as an adjective meaning "of, relating to, or characterized by insult or abuse." In the early 16th century, it appeared in print as a noun meaning "an example of abusive speech." Eventually, the noun developed a second sense applying to abusive language as a whole. Invective comes to us from the Middle French word invectif, which in turn derives from Latin invectivus, meaning "reproachful, abusive." (Invectivus comes from Latin invectus, past participle of the verb invehere, one form of which means "to assail with words.") Invective is similar to abuse, but it tends to suggest not only anger and vehemence but verbal and rhetorical skill. It sometimes implies public denunciation, as in "blistering political invective."
"The ongoing collapse of responsible broadcast and cable journalism and the explosive role that social media has assumed in this campaign have made for a nasty brew of invective, slurs and accusations…." — Susan J. Douglas, In These Times, July 2016
"At a moment when American political discourse has descended to almost unimaginable levels of … invective, we need our teachers to model a better way to discuss our differences." — Jonathan Zimmerman, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 Aug. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
What 2-word term can refer to a writer specializing in invective or to a person hired to ruin another's reputation? [Hint: the first word refers to a type of cutting tool]VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP