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Can one be uninnovative, or un-innovative? I'm looking for a direct antonym of the adjective innovative.

I see an entry at Dictionary.com, but nothing at Merriam Webster (innovative, *uninnovative).

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What about "outtovative"? – JeffSahol Jun 17 '11 at 18:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

No. Indeed, *un[-]innovative does not exist, at least in formal usage. Depending on the context, any of the following could work:

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I think all these work best applied to things or concepts. If it's a person who's not innovative, I vote for hidebound. – Jason Orendorff Jun 16 '11 at 22:35
But it does exist, in real, honest-to-goodness books. Heck, the word is even in the Random House dictionary (as pointed out in the question). – Kosmonaut Jun 17 '11 at 16:17

I'm going to go against the grain and suggest that if 7-Up can create the Un-cola, you can pretty much attach the un- prefix to whatever you like, so long as you recognize that you may be stretching the boundaries a little. But, hey, boundaries are meant to be stretched, right? This doesn't seem to me like an egregious violation of any particular rule. And if I were to see uninnovative applied in a sentence, I would instantly understand what the writer meant and my reading flow would be uninterrupted.

Short answer: If uninnovative isn't a dictionary word (yet), I hereby nominate it as a useful innovation.

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Fair enough, but using 7-Up as an authority on the English language isn't exactly reassuring! :S I agree, the word would be understood, albeit a bit awkward to pronounce. – Noldorin Jan 24 '11 at 1:14
@Noldorin: I think the point is that the un- prefix is very productive and can be added to almost anything, even if no one has ever done it before. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jan 24 '11 at 14:28
If one's level of innovation is mediocre is one not ununinnovative? – RedGrittyBrick Jan 24 '11 at 14:30
+1 Uninnovative has definitely been used before. Google Ngrams show a very low but non-zero level of use ever since 1960, which was when innovative first started being used widely. – Peter Shor Jun 16 '11 at 22:44
Here are examples of its use: "If uninnovative products could also gain commercial success...", "...perhaps being uninnovative will be the new definition of weak", etc. No English speaker would read such sentences and be confused as to the meaning, and most of us would probably not even notice the word. – Kosmonaut Jun 17 '11 at 16:09

Neither the OED nor Wiktionary have anything listed on uninnovative either, nor does the COCA have any entries listed. The BNC has one entry listed for 1991. Based on that evidence, I would conclude that uninnovative is not a word.

I would suggest unimaginative as an alternative.

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I'm no native English speaker, but unimaginative sounds a bit pejorative - I like conventional more. – miku Jan 24 '11 at 1:19

How about conservative or reactionary (depending on how pejorative you want to be)?

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if its an organization.


if a person.

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