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[per-nish-uh s] /pərˈnɪʃ əs/
causing insidious harm or ruin; ruinous; injurious; hurtful:
pernicious teachings; a pernicious lie.
deadly; fatal:
a pernicious disease.
Obsolete. evil; wicked.
Origin of pernicious
1515-25; < Latin perniciōsus ruinous, equivalent to pernici(ēs) ruin (per- per- + -nici-, combining form of nex death, murder (stem nec-) + -iēs noun suffix) + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
perniciously, adverb
perniciousness, noun
unpernicious, adjective
unperniciously, adverb
1. harmful, detrimental, deleterious, destructive, damaging, baneful, noxious, malicious. 2. lethal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pernicious
  • But a bias can be real, and pernicious, without being legally actionable.
  • But a more pernicious problem is the impact upon incentives of all firms.
  • In the end, he conveys the earnest message that pernicious substance abuse can be overcome with willpower and courage.
  • He resists any suggestion that his gambling addiction might be pernicious.
  • This pernicious cycle must end.
  • Some of its most pernicious influences, though, never make the headlines.
  • It packed a more pernicious punch.
  • Austin had contracted in the world a pernicious habit of swearing.
  • But it could also prove pernicious.
  • Shame on you for printing such pernicious and pandering propaganda.
British Dictionary definitions for pernicious


wicked or malicious: pernicious lies
causing grave harm; deadly
Derived Forms
perniciously, adverb
perniciousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin perniciōsus, from perniciēs ruin, from per- (intensive) + nex death
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pernicious

early 15c., from Middle French pernicios (13c., Modern French pernicieux) and directly from Latin perniciosus "destructive," from pernicies "destruction, death, ruin," from per- "completely" (see per) + necis "violent death, murder," related to necare "to kill," nocere "to hurt, injure, harm," noxa "harm, injury" (see noxious). Related: Perniciously; perniciousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pernicious in Medicine

pernicious per·ni·cious (pər-nĭsh'əs)
Tending to cause death or serious injury; deadly.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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