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From Middle French insidieux, from Latin īnsidiōsus (“cunning, artful, deceitful”), from īnsidiae (“a lying in wait, an ambush, artifice, stratagem”) + -ōsus, from īnsideō (“to sit in or on”), from in (“in, on”) + sedeō (“to sit”).
- Producing harm in a stealthy, often gradual, manner.
- 1847, George Lippard, The Quaker City: or, The monks of Monk-Hall:
- Strong and vigorous man as he looks, Livingstone has been for years the victim of a secret and insidious disease.
- 1997, Matthew Wood, The book of herbal wisdom: using plants as medicine:
- At some point in time they may become the source of an insidious cancer.
- 2007, Sharon Weinstein, Ada Lawrence Plumer, Principles and practice of intravenous therapy
- The nurse always must be alert to signs of slow leak or insidious infiltration.
- Intending to entrap; alluring but harmful.
- 1841 February–November, Charles Dickens, “Barnaby Rudge”, in Master Humphrey’s Clock, volume III, London: Chapman & Hall, […], OCLC 633494058, chapter 48, page 215:
- Gashford slid his cold insidious palm into his master's grasp, and so, hand in hand, and followed still by Barnaby and by his mother too, they mingled with the concourse.
- 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, chapter 5, in The Scarlet Letter, a Romance, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, OCLC 223202227:
- The insidious whispers of the bad angel.
- 1948, D.V. Chitaley (editor or publisher), All India Reporter, volume 3, page 341:
- All these facts clearly appear to me now to establish that the sanctioned scheme was a part of a bigger and […] more insidious scheme which was to hoodwink the creditors and to firmly establish and consolidate the position […]
- 1969, Dorothy Brewster, John Angus Burrell, Dead reckonings in fiction
- The atmosphere of this insidious city comes out to meet him the moment he touches the European shore; for in London he meets Maria Gostrey just over from France.
- 2005, Anita Desai, Voices in the City, page 189:
- This seemed to her the worst defilement into which this insidious city had cheated her and in her agitation, she nearly ran into the latrine, […]
- 2007, Joseph Epstein, Narcissus Leaves the Pool, page 171:
- This is the insidious way sports entrap you: you follow a player, which commits you to his team. You begin to acquire scraps of utterly useless information about teammates, managers, owners, trainers, agents, lawyers.
- Hansel and Gretel were lured by the witch’s insidious gingerbread house.
- (nonstandard) Treacherous.
- 1858, Phineas Camp Headley, The life of the Empress Josephine: first wife of Napoleon:
- But with whom do you contract that alliance? With the natural enemy of France — that insidious house of Austria — which detests our country from feeling, system, and necessity.
- 1912, Ralph Straus, The prison without a wall:
- ‘Believe me,’ he shouted, ‘these insidious folk talk dangerous nonsense. I hear they are spouting out their ridiculous platitudes not five miles from this park in which we are standing…’
- The battle was lost due to the actions of insidious defectors.
producing serious harm in a stealthy, often gradual, manner
intending to entrap
treacherous — see treacherous