Insidious vs invidious

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Insidious means something negative or treacherous that proceeds in a subtle and gradual way. Insidious describes something that might not be recognized as negative or treacherous until it is firmly entrenched or has done its damage. The word insidious is derived from the Latin word insidiosus which means cunning, deceitful, treacherous. Related words are insidiously and insidiousness.

Invidious describes something that is likely to arouse envy or resentment in others. Invidious also means discriminating unfairly, unjust. The word invidious comes from the Latin word invidiosus which means envious. Related words are invidiously and invidiousness. Remember, insidious means something treacherous that proceeds in a subtle way, invidious means something that arouses envy in others.


The truly insidious employees slowly erode the company culture and undermine fellow employees, and bosses may be reluctant to take action against them because their behavior isn’t always noticeably damaging. (The Chicago Tribune)

It is an insidious and selective tax hitting just property; not cash deposits, not share assets, but only property. (The Cyprus Mail)

Cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines, and depleted uranium have been some of the most insidious and controversial weapons over the last few decades. (Popular Mechanics Magazine)

On the BBC he did not mention value for money, but rather “invidious relations” with China, of “paying the price”, of world stages and goodwill. (The Guardian)

Yet it should be possible to craft rules to carve out certain kinds of nastiness — including discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, or other invidious motives. (The New Zealand Herald)

How can the grouping not only stay relevant in the South China Sea disputes but also manage the growing big-power rivalry in the region so that it can maintain its autonomy and its members don’t have to make what some have called “invidious choices”? (The Straits Times)