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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce pernicious (audio)

Dictionary definition of pernicious

Harmful or destructive, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
"Overuse of pesticides can have pernicious effects on the environment."

Detailed meaning of pernicious

It implies a negative effect that is not always immediately apparent, but which can cause serious problems over time. A pernicious influence or substance is often insidious in nature, gradually undermining health, well-being, or moral integrity. The word is frequently used to describe social or political phenomena, such as propaganda or corruption, that have a corrosive effect on society. It can also be used to describe something that is destructive to mental or emotional health, such as an addiction or a toxic relationship.

Example sentences containing pernicious

1. The pernicious spread of misinformation was a concern for public health officials.
2. The pernicious effects of smoking are well-documented.
3. Gossip can be a pernicious force in a workplace.
4. The spread of misinformation can have pernicious consequences.
5. Excessive drinking can be a pernicious habit.
6. The pernicious influence of social media can impact mental health.

History and etymology of pernicious

The adjective 'pernicious' traces its origins to Latin, specifically from the word 'perniciosus,' which means 'destructive' or 'deadly.' This Latin term is derived from 'pernicies,' signifying 'ruin' or 'destruction.' The root 'per-' conveys the sense of thoroughness or completeness, emphasizing the idea of something that is deeply destructive. As 'perniciosus' made its way into English, it retained its fundamental sense of being harmful or destructive, especially in a gradual or subtle manner. Its etymology underscores the concept of something insidiously damaging, reflecting the notion that it can lead to ruin or harm over time, often without immediate notice.

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Further usage examples of pernicious

1. Discrimination is a pernicious problem that can affect society as a whole.
2. Hate speech is a pernicious form of expression that can incite violence.
3. Plagiarism can have pernicious consequences in academia and beyond.
4. The pernicious nature of greed can lead to unethical behavior.
5. Inequality is a pernicious issue that continues to affect many communities.
6. Cyberbullying is a pernicious form of harassment that can have serious consequences.
7. The pernicious spread of fake news can undermine trust in journalism and erode democracy.
8. Pernicious addictions, like gambling, can devastate individuals and their families.
9. Pernicious air pollution is a silent killer, affecting millions of urban dwellers.
10. The pernicious allure of easy credit can lead to crippling debt and financial ruin.
11. Pernicious workplace gossip can poison team dynamics and hinder productivity.
12. The pernicious consequences of deforestation are felt by both wildlife and humans.
13. Pernicious cyberattacks can compromise sensitive data, causing widespread harm.
14. Pernicious ideologies can fuel extremism and lead to violence.
15. The pernicious cycle of poverty can trap generations in hardship.
16. Pernicious peer pressure can push vulnerable individuals into destructive behavior.
17. Pernicious discrimination can perpetuate inequality and social division.
18. The pernicious effects of sugar on health are a growing public health concern.
19. Pernicious invasive species can disrupt fragile ecosystems.
20. Pernicious misinformation campaigns can sway elections and disrupt democracies.
21. Pernicious chemical exposure in the workplace can lead to serious health issues.
22. Pernicious tax evasion deprives governments of vital resources for public services.
23. Pernicious corporate greed can exploit workers and harm communities.
24. Pernicious habits like hoarding can lead to unsanitary living conditions.
25. The pernicious influence of extremist ideologies can radicalize individuals.



destructive, beneficial, harmless, healthy


GRE 2 (Graduate Record Examination), Guile and Duplicity, Danger and Threat, Duplicity and Deceit, Health and Physiology, Harmful and Detrimental

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