1 : tending to cause discontent, animosity, or envy
2 a : unpleasant, objectionable, or obnoxious
b : of a kind to cause harm or resentment
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").
"Consider the intimate and curious acquaintance one makes with various kinds of weeds … disturbing their delicate organizations so ruthlessly, and making such invidious distinctions with his hoe, levelling whole ranks of one species, and sedulously cultivating another." — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
"Organizations that practice invidious discrimination detract from social justice. Whatever benefits they may have (of tradition, solidarity, community and self-expression) are undercut by the unpleasantness of treating people differently on the basis of arbitrary characteristics." — Noah Feldman, The Contra Costa (California) Times, 28 Jan. 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Memory
What former Word of the Day beginning with "p" derives from an Old Italian word meaning "touchstone" and itself means "a model of excellence or perfection"?VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP