Definitions

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

  • adjective Tending to cause death or serious injury; deadly.
  • adjective Causing great harm; destructive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having the property of destroying or being injurious; hurtful; destructive.
  • Wicked; malicious; evil-hearted.
  • Quick.

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

  • adjective Having the quality of injuring or killing; destructive; very mischievous; baleful; malicious; wicked.
  • adjective rare Quick; swift (to burn).

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

  • adjective Causing much harm in a subtle way.
  • adjective Causing death or injury; deadly.

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

  • adjective exceedingly harmful
  • adjective working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French pernicios, from Latin perniciōsus, from perniciēs, destruction : per-, per- + nex, nec-, violent death; see nek- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old French pernicios, from Latin perniciosus ("destructive"), from pernicies ("destruction"), from per ("through") + nex ("slaughter, death")

Examples

  • It is time to undertake the reform of what I call a pernicious prejudice.

    The Duchess of Berry and the Court of Charles X

  • My eyes overflow, my dear Pauline; and Maitland will chide me for indulging what he calls a pernicious sensibility.

    The Unexpected Legacy

  • Progressives are too eager to believe that national health care will make it possible to expand coverage while reducing costs — reducing deficits, even! — apparently because all those costs are in pernicious “overhead,” which seems to be joining that political holy trinity “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

    Life, Death, and “Choice”

  • Presumably, what makes political networks so pernicious is not their personal sex life, but the very real damage they do to their states in the form of myopic and self-aggrandizing lawmaking, incompetent appointees, and a perversion of our democratic institutions.

    Hi, Larry Marchant! [UPDATED] | RedState

  • The most pernicious is Proposition 25, which is being sold as a good government measure to end the state's annual fiscal follies and pass a budget on time.

    The Tax Me More State

  • It skews consumption and investment in pernicious ways.

    Matthew Yglesias » The High Cost of Subsidized Homeownership

  • Lane suggests that idea of dramatizing this tale — “a low-grade musing on atrocity, garnished with erotic titillation” — was “pernicious from the start.”

    2008 December « One-Minute Book Reviews

  • Yet more pernicious is the result when that worldview is encoded, unquestioned, systemic.

    Should Women Rule?

  • Yet more pernicious is the result when that worldview is encoded, unquestioned, systemic.

    Should Women Rule?

  • Lane suggests that idea of dramatizing this tale — “a low-grade musing on atrocity, garnished with erotic titillation” — was “pernicious from the start.”

    2008 December 28 « One-Minute Book Reviews

Comments

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  • On this list because I always think it has the connotation of insidiousness, which it doesn't really.

    February 28, 2007

  • Used to describe Knids.

    March 1, 2007

  • "working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way" In this sense, I think it does have the connotation of insidiousness.

    July 10, 2007

  • Then perhaps I should remove it. :-) Thanks, slumry!

    July 23, 2007

  • I thought Knids were vermicious.

    October 5, 2009

  • "In sum, racial categories now in use are based on a convoluted and often pernicious history, including much purposefully created misinformation."

    Source: What Both the Left and Right Get Wrong About Race

    January 22, 2018