[ih-nok-yoo-uh s]


not harmful or injurious; harmless: an innocuous home remedy.
not likely to irritate or offend; inoffensive; an innocuous remark.
not interesting, stimulating, or significant; pallid; insipid: an innocuous novel.

Origin of innocuous

From the Latin word innocuus, dating back to 1590–1600. See in-3, nocuous
Related formsin·noc·u·ous·ly, adverbin·noc·u·ous·ness, in·no·cu·i·ty [in-uh-kyoo-i-tee] /ˌɪn əˈkyu ɪ ti/, nounun·in·noc·u·ous, adjectiveun·in·noc·u·ous·ly, adverbun·in·noc·u·ous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for innocuous

Contemporary Examples of innocuous

Historical Examples of innocuous

  • Has the art censor decided that the photographs are innocuous, or that they are art?

  • To conclude our voyage, we have six or seven days of "innocuous desuetude."

    Shadow and Light

    Mifflin Wistar Gibbs

  • When on the march, the army ants are as innocuous at two inches as at two miles.

    Edge of the Jungle

    William Beebe

  • Tomfoolery, nonsense; trashy, mild, and innocuous literature.

    The Slang Dictionary

    John Camden Hotten

  • That is as innocuous a statement as ever was penned of the objects of any organization.

    The Great American Fraud

    Samuel Hopkins Adams

British Dictionary definitions for innocuous



having little or no adverse or harmful effect; harmless
Derived Formsinnocuously, adverbinnocuousness or innocuity (ˌɪnəˈkjuːɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for innocuous

C16: from Latin innocuus harmless, from in- 1 + nocēre to harm
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for innocuous

1590s, from Latin innocuus "harmless," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + nocuus "hurtful," from root of nocere "to injure, harm," from *nok-s-, suffixed form of PIE root *nek- "death" (see necro-). Related: Innocuously; innocuousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

innocuous in Medicine




Having no adverse effect; harmless.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.