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I am looking for a word that means "tendency to avoid something". At first I thought that aversion fit the bill, but then I learned that it meant "a strong dislike towards something."

For example, most people have an aversion towards feces. I am looking for a word that more along the lines of "they don't hate PBJs, they just try to avoid them as much as possible."

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There are mixed senses in your question. You are both asking "tendency to avoid something" and a word similar to avoid/avoidance in a certain context. Are we trying to find a general tendency to avoidance or a word for a special context? Because it can depend on external stimuli and even a mental behavior. –  ermanen Mar 28 at 6:14
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I am referring to general avoidance of a (leniently) specific thing. Example: "My friend almost always avoids walking counterclockwise around a table. He must have a insert word here towards such an action." rather than "My Aunt avoided crossing the projected path of a speeding trash truck today. I think it saved her life." –  DanielTA Mar 28 at 6:51
    
I really think the very best word is "avoid". There's a common phrase "avoid like the plague" which says exactly what you want to say. Carbohydrates, I avoid them like the plague! .. sort of thing. –  Joe Blow Mar 28 at 9:48
    
@DanielTA: Thanks for the elaboration. It is more clear now and helped to find an answer also. –  ermanen Mar 28 at 16:18

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

disinclination might fit. It covers both unwillingness and a mild aversion so you tend to avoid that thing. It does not suggest a strong dislike also.

  • a lack of inclination; a mild aversion or reluctance.

  • that toward which you are inclined to feel dislike

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Aversion is an acceptable word for this. Read definition number 3.

Aversion is a strong dislike, but it carries a sense of repellence, too. Per Merriam-Webster: It is a tendency to extinguish a behavior or to avoid a thing or situation and especially a usually pleasurable one because it is or has been associated with a noxious stimulus.

I think this sounds exactly like the word you are requesting.

You can absolutely have an aversion to PB&Js.

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You know David, for me aversion means you don't like something; and has no connection at all to whether you avoid it. For example, I have an extreme, absolute, total aversion to work. But conversely, as a good family man, I have never in the slightest avoided work, indeed I work very hard. Indeed, quite simply, aversion is a noun describing your feelings. (Exactly like "happy" "sad" "distate" etc.) Whereas the OP is looking for something describing one's actions, right? –  Joe Blow Mar 28 at 9:47
    
Repellence or repulsion? –  Joe Z. Mar 28 at 15:48
    
@JoeZ take your pick. –  David M Mar 28 at 16:38
    
@JoeBlow what you do about your aversion is not the same as having one. I agree. But, avoiding something which others might find pleasant is right in the definition above. I'm not saying that it is a perfect fit in every nuanced sense. But it is adequate and people will not call it wrong. –  David M Mar 28 at 16:41
    
Hmm, I dunno. It's 100.00% wrong. When my children accidentally use aversion to mean avoid I simply tell them "that's the wrong word, aversion is a feeling, avoid describes your actions" –  Joe Blow Mar 29 at 6:56

Eschew is to habitually avoid for both moral/practical reasons

A list of synonymous choices; I prefer forbear http://law.academic.ru/31912/eschew

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Because of the strong connotative charges associated with the adjective averse and its noun aversion, as well as to many synonymous words, such as opposed and opposition, one might do well to select something of similar meaning and softer connotation.

I might suggest forego used as in example:

She set down the sandwich and replied, "Indeed, we did forego PB&Js at the monastery on account of their perceived decadence." She sipped her milk and continued, with a furtive smile, "Of course, we're much more averse to needless starvation than we are to bending the dogmatic principles of our order when they simply do not apply."

The above sloppily-spun pseudo-excerpt serves to illustrate the difference between the idea of to be in opposition of something and the idea of to bypass if possible.

If we need a noun phrase, we could explore use of the word disposition. For example, it may be said that one is not predisposed to PB&Js or that one is of the disposition to forego PB&Js and so on.

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Abstain and refrain are two words that I can think of and haven’t been covered already.

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This is good I think, those words much softer connotative charges than some of the words discussed early on. –  miercoledi Mar 28 at 15:23

You shun the object of your aversion.

You will also be exhibiting avoidant behaviour.

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