Insidious In*sid"i*ous, a. [L. insidiosus, fr. insidiae an ambush, fr. insidere to sit in; pref. in- + sedere to sit: cf. F. insidieux. See {Sit}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Lying in wait; watching an opportunity to insnare or entrap; deceitful; sly; treacherous; -- said of persons; as, the insidious foe. ``The insidious witch.'' --Cowper. [1913 Webster]

2. Intended to entrap; characterized by treachery and deceit; as, insidious arts. [1913 Webster]

The insidious whisper of the bad angel. --Hawthorne. [1913 Webster]

3. Acting or proceeding unobserved or in a seemingly harmless manner, but slowly or eventually doing great damage; as, an insidious disease; an insidious plot. [PJC]

{Insidious disease} (Med.), a disease existing, without marked symptoms, but ready to become active upon some slight occasion; a disease not appearing to be as bad as it really is.

Syn: Crafty; wily; artful; sly; designing; guileful; circumventive; treacherous; deceitful; deceptive. -- {In*sid"i*ous*ly}, adv. -- {In*sid"i*ous*ness}, n. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


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  • insidious — insidious, invidious Since both words involve doing or threatening harm, their closeness of form causes them to be commonly confused. Insidious (from Latin insidiae ‘ambush’) means ‘proceeding inconspicuously but harmfully’ • (An insidious form… …   Modern English usage

  • insidious — [in sid′ē əs] adj. [L insidiosus < insidiae, an ambush, plot < insidere, to sit in or on, lie in wait for < in , in + sedere, to SIT] 1. characterized by treachery or slyness; crafty; wily 2. operating in a slow or not easily apparent… …   English World dictionary

  • insidious — I adjective artful, beguiling, cheating, conniving, covinous, crafty, cunning, deceitful, deceiving, deceptive, designing, devious, dishonest, disloyal, dolosus, ensnaring, fallax, false, false hearted, foxy, fraudulent, furtive, guileful,… …   Law dictionary

  • insidious — 1540s, from M.Fr. insidieux (15c.) or directly from L. insidiosus deceitful, cunning, artful, from insidiae (pl.) plot, snare, ambush, from insidere sit on, occupy, from in in (see IN (Cf. in ) (2)) + sedere to sit (see SEDENTARY (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • insidious — *sly, cunning, crafty, tricky, foxy, wily, guileful, artful Analogous words: treacherous, perfidious (see FAITHLESS): *dangerous, perilous: furtive, stealthy, covert, underhand, underhanded (see SECRET) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • insidious — [adj] sneaky, tricky artful, astute, corrupt, crafty, crooked, cunning, dangerous, deceitful, deceptive, deep, designing, dishonest, disingenuous, duplicitous, ensnaring, false, foxy, guileful, intriguing, like a snake in the grass*,… …   New thesaurus

  • insidious — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, with harmful effect. DERIVATIVES insidiously adverb insidiousness noun. ORIGIN Latin insidiosus cunning …   English terms dictionary

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