• invidious •
in-vi-di-ês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Unpleasant, obnoxious, causing animosity. 2. Unfair, partial, discriminatory. 3. (Archaic) Envious.
Notes: This adjective has wandered far away from its original meaning, "envious", now archaic. It comes with an ordinary adverb, invidiously, and an ordinary noun, invidiousness.
In Play: This word no longer means "envy": "In the 1960s police were called by the invidious sobriquet 'pigs'." It only means what is included in Meaning above: "Putin is hoping for success, however invidious, of his inhumane invasion of Ukraine."
Word History: English borrowed this word directly from Latin invidiosus, and again from French after French had smoothed it out a bit to become envious. English, through the ages, has changed the meaning of invidious. Latin invidiosus is the adjective based on invidia "envy, jealousy", which ultimately became envy in English. Invidia was created from PIE en "in" + weid- "to see, to know", as when we say, "I see," meaning "I know". We find it in Sanskrit veda "I know", Greek oida "to know" (Doric woida), Latin video "I see", German wissen "to know", English wit and wise, Russian videt' "to see", Serbian videti "to see", Polish widzieć "to see" and wiedzieć "to know", Lithuanian įvaizdis "image", and Welsh gweler "to see" and gwedd "appearance". (Let's not invidiously forget to thank newcomer to our happy band of contributors, Bill McGrady, for finding such a surprisingly Good Word as today's and sharing it with us.)
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