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From Medieval Latin anōdynos (stilling or relieving pain), from Ancient Greek ἀνώδυνος (anṓdunos, free from pain), from ἀν- (an-, without) + ὀδύνη (odúnē, pain).

Adjective sense “noncontentious” probably through French anodin (harmless, trivial), of same origin.



anodyne (comparative more anodyne, superlative most anodyne)

  1. (pharmacology) capable of soothing or eliminating pain [from 16th c.]
    • 1847, Littell's Living Age, number 161, 12 June 1847, in Volume 13, page 483:
      Many a time has the vapor of ether been inhaled for the relief of oppressed lungs; many a time has the sought relief been thus obtained; and just so many times has the discovery of the wonderful anodyne properties of this gas, as affecting all bodily suffering, been brushed past and overlooked.
    • 1910, Edward L. Keyes, Diseases of the Genito-Urinary Organs, page 211:
      The citrate is the most efficient as an alkali, but irritates some stomachs, the liquor the most anodyne, the acetate the most diuretic.
  2. (figuratively) soothing or relaxing [from 18th c.]
    Classical music is rather anodyne.
  3. (by extension) noncontentious, blandly agreeable, unlikely to cause offence or debate [from 20th c.]
    Synonyms: bland, inoffensive, noncontentious
    • 2003, The Guardian, 20 May 2003:
      It all became so routine, so anodyne, so dull.
    • 2004, John Dickie, Cosa Nostra: A History Of The Sicilian Mafia, Hodder & Stoughton, →ISBN:
      What is less known about Cavalleria is that its story is the purest, most anodyne form of a myth about Sicily and the mafia, a myth that was something akin to the official ideology of the Sicilian mafia for nearly a century and a half.
    • 2010, "Rattled", The Economist, 9 Dec 2010:
      States typically like to stick to anodyne messages, like saving wildflowers or animals. But every so often a controversy crops up.



anodyne (plural anodynes)

  1. (pharmacology) any medicine or other agent that relieves pain
  2. (figuratively) a source of relaxation or comfort
    • 1890, Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. VII:
      The air was heavy with the perfume of the flowers, and their beauty seemed to bring him an anodyne for his pain.
    • 1929, Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, page 79:
      So, with a sigh, because novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand.


Derived termsEdit







  1. feminine singular of anodyn





  1. vocative masculine singular of anōdynos or anōdynus