Vocabulary Builder: invidious

Nabokov said that a good reader is someone who always has a dictionary at hand. 

I’m probably not alone in skimming over unfamiliar words, thinking “well, that probably means ….”.    Starting with this post, I’m not going to let those words slip by.

Not too long ago, we had Bill Buckley to thank for keeping less-frequently used words alive.  Someone once complained to him that he used too many difficult words.  Buckley replied that it was just that he used the word most appropriate to the subject. 

Today’s entry is “invidious”.  The source is the irrepressible John Derbyshire, of National Review, this time on The Corner, for January 18, 2009:

 There were many duplicates, so it would be invidious to assign credits.

As Derbyshire uses it here, it means

offensively or unfairly discriminating; injurious:  invidious comparisons.

It comes from the Latin word invidiōsus, “envious”.  The idea behind the word is that to single out one of many might make the others envious


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