October 31, 2011
- insidious (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- 1 a : awaiting a chance to trap : treacherous b : harmful but attractive2 : having an effect that develops gradually
- How do you use it?
- The glacier was insidious: breathtakingly beautiful, but riddled with danger.
- Are you a word wiz?
What language do you think ultimately gave us "insidious"?"Insidious" came into English from the Latin adjective "insidiosus," which means "insidious." The Latin adjective, in turn, came from a Latin noun that meant "ambush." The English word "insidious" focuses less on tactical moves and more on intrigue--and it has since the beginning. The very first written use of "insidious" reads, "There be nowe meruelous subtyle craftinesses excercised in courtes, insidiouse wylinesses" ("There are now marvelous, subtle crafty dealings exercised in courts, insidious wilynesses"). The subtle craftiness of "insidious" carried through to its later meanings: "harmful but attractive" (used in our example sentence above) and "having an effect that develops gradually" (as in "an insidious disease").