Word Smith: Anodyne

Adjective: not likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so. As in “anodyne New Age music.” Synonymous with bland and innocuous.

Noun: a painkilling drug or medicine. As in “she so disliked drugs, she even refused anodynes.”

Typical messages on US House of Representatives Facebook pages, public white papers and websites have been brimming with “well-wishes on holidays, descriptions of services for constituents and details of town hall meetings.” The words, the messages were anodyne.

“Not any more,” says The New York Times [1]. Legislators of all colors, stripes, and parties are using highly charged, provocative and incendiary language to criticize the other party and inflame their base.

Not that this post says that only anodyne language is acceptable, it’s worth emphasizing that the bleeding edge is just that: bloody. It’s ugly, hateful and pernicious.

It’s time to tone it down and restart civil conversations. Without lowering the temperature of the language, our democracy has no sustainability and our discourse has no substance: only HATE remains. The Devil is in the details, as they say.



[1] New York Times article: “Trump Backers Use ‘Devil Terms’ to Rally Voters” by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Steve Eder, Sunday, October 23, 2022.