Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This will be a bit hard to explain, but I'll give it a shot.

I am looking for a good word to describe: A person hiding his intense positive enthusiasm and excitement for something, as to not seem overly excited and hence being perceived as emotional or irrational. This person is afraid that his excitement might generate some sort of mistrust with the cautious person who will decide if he will be able to experience what he is exited about or not.

Example sentence:

"He is a true pragmatist; one who takes on new challenges with great, yet [word here] enthusiasm."

I have been thinking about using concealed, reserved, humbled, restrained and modest, but I feel like those words come with a sort of negative undertone, as if the person is harbouring some kind of hidden agenda, which is not what I want to say. Any suggestions?

share|improve this question
1  
So, you’d like to compress a fifty-nine–word paragraph into just one single word, eh? If you manage that one, let me know, because I know some crypto guys who’d love to talk to you. –  tchrist Aug 10 '12 at 23:56
    
I just added that paragraph in an attempt to illustrate and add some context to the question. The [word here] in the example sentence is what I was looking to fill. –  Leif Aug 11 '12 at 0:22
add comment

9 Answers 9

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Words like seemly, proper, careful, knowing, canny, shrewd, astute, and decorous may fit. With slight rewording, phrases like with appropriate reserve, in reasoned measure, carefully proportioned, and not unseemly can be made to work. Of the above, canny ("careful, prudent, cautious" or "knowing, shrewd, astute") may serve best, because of its connotations of conscious, knowing insight and an eye to the main chance.

share|improve this answer
    
Perfect! Thank you so much. I will most likely use astute or shrewd. So many good and fitting suggestions in there, it's hard to choose! :) –  Leif Aug 11 '12 at 0:28
    
Wish I could up-vote this a few more times. –  Leif Aug 11 '12 at 0:34
add comment

How about "guarded"? It means "noncommittal", "restrained".

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks! "Guarded" is a good word I didn't think about, but I feel like "noncommittal" is a bit too negative, as this person is definitely very much committed. –  Leif Aug 11 '12 at 0:16
add comment

The syntax you’ve committed yourself to makes it tricky. How about “with great, yet closeted, enthusiasm”. Or with “covert” for “closeted” (though I rather like “closeted” here).

With different syntax you could go for: “... yet does not display any (outward) sign of enthusiasm” or “suppresses any display/sign of enthusiasm”.

Slightly less transparently, you might play on the expression “to play one’s card close to one’s chest” (meaning, not to let on about what you are doing or have prepared): “he plays his enthusiasm close to his chest”.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks, Daniel! Some good suggestions there. I agree that the syntax makes it harder. I might used "closeted", or take your suggestion and rephrase it. –  Leif Aug 11 '12 at 0:12
add comment

stoic: One who is seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain.

is the word that comes to mind for me.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Perhaps the phrase tempered the expression of his enthusiasm might work.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, or suppressed his enthusiasm. You will often read that someone "suppressed a smile". –  MετάEd Aug 11 '12 at 0:38
    
@ΜετάEd - I picke tempered becasue OP said he wanted to avoid any negative connotation. –  bib Aug 11 '12 at 0:41
add comment

As I was reading your question I was thinking of cautious enthusiasm. Re-reading the question I see you used the adjective "cautious" to describe the person from whom the subject is trying to conceal the fullness of his enthusiasm, but I still think it works. I think there have been some good suggestions, although to me, "shrewd" carries a slightly negative connotation (calculating, cunning), and "closeted" is, to me, almost exclusively associated with the Closet into which homophobia sends LGBTQ folks.

share|improve this answer
add comment

How about he curbed his enthusiasm?

share|improve this answer
add comment

"Reasoned" strikes me as best for the sample sentence given, though I also like a previous commenter's suggestion of "tempered". (Or "understated", "controlled", "measured"... the tag on this was 'five-word-suggestion', right? :-) )

"Great, yet reasoned enthusiasm" emphasizes that his enthusiasm comes from a thoughtful source - and perhaps alludes to his concern that it not be seen as irrational.

share|improve this answer
add comment

He is a true pragmatist; one who takes on new challenges with great yet cool enthusiasm.

No comma after “great”.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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