Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
February 6th, 2015
Episode 99 of 713 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 06, 2015 is: inimical \in-NIM-ih-kul\ adjective 1 : being adverse often by reason of hostility or malevolence 2 a : having the disposition of an enemy : hostile b : reflecting or indicating hostility : unfriendly Examples: The mayor's proposal received an inimical response from members of the town council. "Profiling and other means of applying stereotypes to certain types of persons on the basis of how they appear, as opposed to how they behave, is inimical to the very foundations of our democratic republic." Mark T. Harris, Sacramento (California) Bee, January 3, 2015 Did you know? In inimical, one finds both a friend and an enemy. The word descends from Latin inimicus, which combines amicus, meaning "friend," with the negative prefix in-, meaning "not." In current English, inimical rarely describes a person, however. Instead, it is generally used to describe forces, concepts, or situations that are in some way harmful or hostile. For example, high inflation may be called inimical to economic growth. Inimicus is also an ancestor of enemy, whereas amicus gave us the much more congenial amicable (meaning "friendly" or "peaceful") and amiable (meaning "agreeable" or "friendly").