adjective1 : producing no injury : harmless 2 : not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility : inoffensive, insipid
Innocuous has harmful roots—it comes to us from the Latin adjective innocuus, which was formed by combining the negative prefix in- with a form of the verb nocēre, meaning “to harm” or “to hurt.” In addition, nocēre is related to the truly “harmful” words noxious, nocent, and even nocuous. Innocent is from nocēre as well, but like innocuous it has the in- prefix negating the hurtful possibilities. Innocuous first appeared in print in 1631 with the clearly Latin-derived meaning “harmless or causing no injury” (as in “an innocuous gas”). The second sense is a metaphorical extension of the idea of injury used to indicate that someone or something does not cause hurt feelings, or even strong feelings (“an innocuous book” or “innocuous issues,” for example).
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Name That Antonym: Unscramble the letters to create an antonym of innocuous: IEOSNMO. The answer is …