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INNOCUOUS

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INNOCUOUS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Apr 25, 2005 11:56 pm

• innocuous •

Pronunciation: in-nah-kyu-wês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Harmless, causing no injury; not venomous (snakes). 2. Insipid, inoffensive, all but unnoticeable.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the negative of nocuous, a word losing ground to a distant cousin noxious. It has a standard adverb, innocuously and noun, innocuousness. You may also use the rarer noun, innocuity, if you are a bit daring. The word history should help you remember that this word is a combination of in- "not" + nocuous "harmful", requiring a double N. Don't forget the two Us separated by an O, either.

In Play: Something nocuous might cause physical or mental anguish: "It was an innocuous remark about the hot weather until he thanked her for shading them with her shadow." While innocuous people may be a bit bland, they do tend to be trustworthy, "Duane Pipes is such an innocuous little man, you can trust him with your girlfriend."

Word History: From Latin innocuus "harmless", composed of in- "not" + nocuus "harmful", the adjective from nocere "to harm". The oldest form of this word's root is *nek-/*nok- "death". Derivatives include innocent, nuisance, and nectarine. Innocent comes from the present participle of nocere, negated, innocens, meaning "not causing harm". Nuisance comes from the same participle, polished a bit more by French. The innocent little nectarine took its name from nektar "the drink of the Greek gods", which had, among its best qualities, the capacity to defeat death. (One of Susan Lister's best qualities is her ability to find very Good Words, like today's, so as to impede their death.)
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:39 am

When spelling innocuous and inoculate, I always have to stop and think which one has one L and which two.

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Postby KatyBr » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:36 pm

"L" ?????

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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:44 pm

Hahahahaha. What was that about? Neither has an L. I meant N.

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Postby KatyBr » Tue Apr 26, 2005 5:13 pm

But one Has an "L" but also one "U" the other has two "U"s..
I always stop to think about those lovely two "U"s I love a word with two of them, especially consecutively, apparently there are only three words with two consecutive "U"s.... But any word with two is lovely, and sounds so Mellifluous*, and which coincidentally has TWO "L"S.

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*mellifluous \muh-LIF-loo-us\, adjective:
Flowing as with honey; flowing sweetly or smoothly; as, a mellifluous voice.

The balladeer whose mellifluous voice serenaded two generations of lovers.
--Margo Jefferson, "Unforgettable," New York Times, December 26, 1999

The tones were high-sounding, mellifluous, as if the speaker was reading from a book of old English verse while holding back any trace of sentiment or emotion.
--Ken Gormley, Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation

I picked up more mellifluous words when a family friend came over to teach me some Chilean music on my guitar.
--Edward Hower, "No Frogs Allowed," New York Times, January 30, 2000
http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday/archive/2002/03/20.html
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Apr 26, 2005 5:55 pm

I love these -uous words too, but for a different reason. Brazilian learners of English tend to pronounce them like woo-oh-oos, or something like that, and that coming from a woman sounds way too sexy for me to eliminate. That's why I hardly ever correct them, I just play along (some teacher I am!). Delicious is the best when pronounced dê-lee-shee-ohs.

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Postby Apoclima » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:40 pm

There has got to be a name for that, BD!

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Postby KatyBr » Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:36 am

I will venture a guess, mental oogling?

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BD, visit the south of the US when you get here, most southerners pride themselves on how many sylabils they can get from a 3-5 letter word....just ask Tim how 'the Colonel' pronounces his words, women use it to intice..
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Postby Apoclima » Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:08 am

How about xenophonophilia?

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Postby Brazilian dude » Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:25 am

Mental oogling
? Come on! I'm a very respectful teacher, it's just that my mind sometimes races faster than I can help.

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P.S. That explains why my first girlfriend was from Virginia, hehehehe.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:11 pm

How about xenophonophilia?

I love it! Did you make it up like I did homoglota? There's another invention of mine: rainshield. I use rainshield (a calque of German Regenschirm and Dutch regenscherm) instead of umbrella because I hate the sound of it, it doesn't even sound English to me.

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P.S. I know, umbrella is Latin.
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Postby Apoclima » Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:00 pm

Well, yes, I just "made it up," but there is one site I found with google that uses this word, however, it is used jocularly as a reference to the way that the troops felt about their general, the famous, "Strange Sound" himself, Xenophon!

I think we are safe to use it, even if it is sometimes confused with the anterior meaning!

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Postby KatyBr » Sat Apr 30, 2005 11:21 am

BD, there is an English alternative to Umbrella= Bumbershoot!

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how about Xenophiliphobia?
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Apr 30, 2005 11:31 am

I think xenophiliphobia would be a product of a schizofrenic.

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