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From Middle English, from Old French pernicios, from Latin perniciōsus (destructive), from perniciēs (destruction), from per (through) + nex (slaughter, death).



pernicious (comparative more pernicious, superlative most pernicious)

  1. Causing much harm in a subtle way.
    Synonym: deleterious
    • 1911, Emma Goldman, “The Hypocrisy of Puritanism”, in Anarchism and Other Essays:
      Puritanism no longer employs the thumbscrew and lash; but it still has a most pernicious hold on the minds and feelings of the American people.
    • 2017 March 22, Jacob Kastrenakes, “Medium launches memberships for $5 per month”, in The Verge[1]:
      In January, the company laid off a third of its staff and renounced ads as a pernicious influence on the world, without mentioning that Google and Facebook are so good at ads there’s hardly room for anyone else to compete.
    • 2019 July 9, Toni Bentley, “What Do the Sex Lives of ‘Three Women’ Tell Us About Female Desire?”, in New York Times[2]:
      A man has always been a woman’s best excuse to avoid her destiny; that a man is her destiny is one of patriarchy’s most pernicious tenets. What a scam.
  2. Causing death or injury; deadly.
    Synonym: attery

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