English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for a term, word or metaphor for being social but within rules or boundaries.

I don't like the word privacy as it has a negative connotation. I think the word social is overused or misunderstood, especially in the online realm. I assume real social interactions operate on trust and that certain behavioral rules must be followed. But doing things together bonds people, and they learn more about each other. Etiquette is too stodgy and doesn't encompass all that I am trying to say.

Any thoughts on how to combine all of these ideas into one word, a blend-word, or a metaphor, please?

share|improve this question

closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, kiamlaluno, TimLymington, Mahnax, Matt E. Эллен Aug 23 '12 at 8:53

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Can you give a pseudo sentance where you'd like to use this word? Just put [x] where you'd like the word to go. – TecBrat Jun 7 '12 at 17:01
What do you mean 'within rules or boundaries'? What would being social outside of those rules or boundaries be? How are privacy and etiquette in the same camp with respect to 'social'? This seems underspecified. Can you give a lot more (in your question about what you really mean? – Mitch Jun 7 '12 at 17:03

I think the word you're looking for might be conventional. It means something like '(given to) behavior bounded by convention'.

It's not at all stodge; the fact that conventional is often used to condemn obsolete past conventions doesn't mean that it's lost its other, more precise, and less politically correct sense.

Conventions, especially tacit conventions like grammar, are simply common solutions to common problems, like which side of the road to drive on. It's not stodgy, within the meaning of the act, to drive on the left in the UK but on the right in the US. Doing otherwise, in fact, is both illegal and dangerous. Being conventional just means observing boundaries like we all do.

share|improve this answer
Conventional is an interesting concept, John. Sort of like a double yellow line that runs between opposite lanes of a highway. We observe those lines as a matter of convention without even thinking about it really (tacit). However, online networks have people thinking about those double yellow lines differently than before. – Jimmy Jun 7 '12 at 18:13

I think the concepts closest to what you mean are those of being tactful and of being appropriate.

share|improve this answer

Thoughtful, "Demonstrating kindness or consideration for others" may be along the lines of what is sought. There are numerous synonyms or related words that provide quite a variety of senses; eg sensible for "Acting with or showing good sense; able to make good judgements based on reason", deliberate for "Formed with deliberation; well-advised; carefully considered; not sudden or rash", circumspect for "Carefully aware of all circumstances; considerate of all that is pertinent", and so forth.

share|improve this answer

Polite, "Showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil: a polite reply;" or perhaps cordial, "courteous and gracious; friendly; warm: a cordial reception."

share|improve this answer
I really like your two suggestions: polite and cordial. Together, they seem a good fit for the O.P.'s request. – J.R. Jun 7 '12 at 18:33

Proper might be a good fit. It is defined as "showing standards of behavior that are socially and morally acceptable."

Also if you are mannerly or well-mannered you act with politeness and are socially correct in your behavior.

All of these words have an aspect of conforming to a social standard or boundaries of social behavior.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.