from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Capable of soothing or eliminating pain.
  • adjective Relaxing.
  • noun A medicine, such as aspirin, that relieves pain.
  • noun A source of soothing comfort.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having power to relieve pain; hence, soothing to the feelings.
  • noun A medicine or drug which relieves pain, as an opiate or a narcotic; hence, figuratively, anything that allays mental pain or distress.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Any medicine which allays pain, as an opiate or narcotic; anything that soothes disturbed feelings.
  • adjective Serving to assuage pain; soothing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun pharmacology Any medicine or other agent that relieves pain.
  • noun figuratively A source of relaxation or comfort.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective capable of relieving pain
  • noun a medicine used to relieve pain


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin anōdynus, from Greek anōdunos, free from pain : an-, without; see a– + odunē, pain; see ed- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin anōdynus ("painless"), from Ancient Greek ἀνώδυνος (anōdynos, "free from pain"), from ἀν- (an-, "without") + ὀδύνη (odynē, "pain").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word anodyne.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Space, the final frontier.

    October 18, 2007

  • The name of a great album by Uncle Tupelo.

    Uncle Tupelo was an alternative country music group from Belleville, Illinois, active between 1987 and 1994. Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn formed the band after the lead singer of their previous band, The Primitives, left to attend college. The trio recorded three albums for Rockville Records, before signing with Sire Records and expanding to a five-piece. Shortly after the release of the band's major label debut album Anodyne, Farrar announced his decision to leave the band due to a soured relationship with his co-songwriter Tweedy. Uncle Tupelo split on May 1, 1994, after completing a farewell tour. Following the breakup, Farrar formed Son Volt with Heidorn, while the remaining members continued as Wilco.


    February 11, 2008

  • "The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention ... It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant ... the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being non-existent persons." George Orwell, 1984

    June 18, 2009

  • I think that people have been misusing anodyne, mean "harmless" in a sort of wet-noodly, pejorative sense. It's an interesting shift...implying that that which eliminates pain is without character...Has anybody else noticed this?

    November 2, 2009

  • "The little Bible was no stranger to fear and suffering, and if it wasn't ether, I hoped it might still possess its own power of anodyne."

    —Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (New York: Bantam Dell, 2005), 168

    January 30, 2010

  • "The swelling night seemed full of the soft communions--anodynes for the loneliness of the dark."

    Lord Foul's Bane

    July 30, 2012

  • This word also means "inoffensive on purpose", often in a condescending way.

    October 5, 2013