- On April 28, 2020
Insidious and insipid share the same page in the dictionary, but their meanings have nothing in common. Insidious means proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects, while insipid means lacking flavor. Yet on account of their physical similarity—all those i’s, n’s and s’s make them look and sound alike—they’re often confused. I recently saw a writer refer to COVID-19 as an insipid disease; she meant insidious instead.
Insidious is surely more appropriate. You can be a carrier and not know it, so the virus has its subtleties, but I don’t think COVID-19 is ultimately going to be known as a subtle disease.
This example is a good reminder to always look up words in the dictionary. Merriam-webster.com is quick and easy to use—and will spare you unnecessary embarrassment.