The word anodyne refers to either something that soothes pain—such as a drug or a mother’s touch—or something that is harmless. Some related words are bromide, innocuous, and palliative.
You’ll often see anodyne wielded in negative contexts:
“Novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand” – Viginia Woolf
“There is no self-delusion more fatal than that which makes the conscience dreamy with the anodyne of lofty sentiments, while the life is groveling and sensual” – James Russell Lowell
In its positive sense, anodyne typically refers to literal painkillers or content that is squeaky clean.
For example, you might think of Disney movies as being anodyne, but think again. Some perverted sleuths have dug deep into your favorite childhood films to discover a treasure trove of salacious humor. I’d give some examples, but I don’t want to sully your precious memories and emotional attachments (or I’m just too lazy).
There’s a game called Anodyne. Check it out in all its 8-bit glory:
There’s a song called “Anodyne Sea” by As I lay Dying:
And if As I Lay Dying is a bit too intense for you, here’s “Anodyne” by Uncle Tupelo: