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Incipient vs. insipient (vs. insipid)

Something that is incipient means beginning to exist or just starting to happen. Insipient is an archaism meaning wanting wisdomstupid, or foolish. It is almost nowhere to be found in 21st-century English, except as an occasional misspelling of incipient.

Although insipid (from the Latin in- and sapidus, meaning not savory) is sometimes used to mean simply bad, it traditionally means (1) lacking flavor or zest, (2) lacking exciting qualities, or (3) dull.

Examples

Incipient


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In a related vein, Pakistan has also seen the emergence of an incipient, albeit still miniscule, civil society. [Foreign Policy]

It is perfectly possible that, for example, adolescents with incipient mental health issues are more likely to take drugs. [Telegraph]

Insipid

The characters are insipid, the plot is conventional and the production values are ordinary. [Nick Picks Flicks]

Instead, the insipid and farty flavors of boiled beef and cabbage became the signature flavors of his youth. [Christian Science Monitor]

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Comments

  1. In a related vein, Pakistan has also seen the emergence of an incipient, albeit still miniscule, civil society. [Foreign Policy]

    Foreign Policy may have done well with incipient, but they bungled “minuscule.”

  2. Thank you! I have been misusing “insipid” (as a syn. for “foolish”) for far too long! I will correct myself from now on! ^_^

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