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

Adjective meaning #3 probably through French anodin, of same origin.



anodyne (comparative more anodyne, superlative most anodyne)

  1. 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. Noncontentious, blandly agreeable, unlikely to cause offence or debate; bland, inoffensive. [from 20th c.]
    • 2003, The Guardian, 20 May 2003:
      It all became so routine, so anodyne, so dull.
    • 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 terms[edit]







  1. vocative masculine singular of anōdynos or anōdynus